The Me Too Movement in South Korea

The Me Too Movement in South Korea

1500 800 Haemi Lee

In the midst of the “Me Too” movement, many Korean actresses and actors have sent their support for the movement and victims of sexual assault. The hashtag, #MeToo, was created to display the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment within workplaces such as the movie and music industry. Through the movement, many women have shared their own personal stories of assault, creating awareness of the struggles women experience in their day to day lives.

Starting in Hollywood, the social movement has accelerated towards Korea sparking a chain of sexual harassment allegations within the industry. The movement has exposed sexual violence, bringing perpetrators to the light. Actors such as Oh Dal Soo and Jo Min Ki have admitted to the accusations and apologized for their actions.

On February 28, Oh Dal Soo released the following statement:

“This is Oh Dal Soo. The series of events that are happening are all my fault. I’m genuinely sorry for troubling so many people, and I bow my head in apology to everyone I’ve hurt in the past and present. It’s all my fault, and I’m the only one to blame. I went through a very difficult time the past few days.

In the midst of the criticism I’d received for a delayed statement, I honestly could not remember clearly the people who’ve been hurt. I was scared people would question why I didn’t remember anything, but it was truthfully how I felt. I’m deeply reflecting about this.

After reading comments and media reports, I tried to remember again by asking acquaintances from the time. However, it’s true the interview information is different than what I remember. I wanted to confirm everything and talk to her face to face. I felt so frustrated. I’ll bear all the criticism I faced for not expressing my feelings at an earlier time and stating it never happened. I apologize.

To ‘A,’ if it’s who I’m thinking of, you were a very shy and kind person with a strong identity. You were skilled in writing, so I suggested you wrote a play or novel. I’m already like a trapped animal with my limbs cut off, but I’ll endure it all. I’m aware that in this world, fame and luck can come and go quickly. Twenty five years ago, I had romantic feelings. I sincerely apologize for the pain I caused. I feel very guilty that people had to go through life with all this pain. I know it’s hard now, but I hope your wounds eventually heal. If there is a specific way ‘A’ wants to handle this, I can follow her wishes.

To actress Uhm Ji Young, I’m deeply sorry that you had to appear on TV because of me as a teacher to young students. Whatever I say will sound like an excuse and no one will believe me, but my heart is aching. I’ll accept all the stern rebukes. Uhm Ji Young, please comfort your heart and stay healthy. I’ll reflect on the life I’ve lived, and I’ll live with a remorseful heart.

In conclusion, I won’t avoid the consequences of my actions. I’m sorry to those who’ve gotten hurt a second and third time because of me. I’ve hurt the people who’ve given me so much undeserved support. I’m sorry once again.”

Jo Min Ki has also released a statement:

“Everything is my fault and my mistake. I deeply apologize to all the victims that were hurt because of me, and I will not avoid any legal and social responsibilities that come with my mistakes. I also apologize once again of momentarily showing an embarrassing side due to a sudden onslaught of times that was hard for me to handle. It is late, but I will let down everything. I will reflect on my actions for the rest of my life. I will pay back this debt of my heart through devotion and community service. I apologize once again and bow my head.

2018.2.27 Jo Min Ki”

Following their statements and the public outrage, actions were taken against both actors.

In regard to the upcoming “Along With the Gods” sequel, Lotte Entertainment has released a statement, saying:

“Oh Dal Soo’s appearance will be completely edited out and it’s been decided to re-film his part (with a new actor).”

His roles in future upcoming movies still remain a question in the midst of his sexual harassment.

Will Entertainment has also released an official statement in regard to Jo Min Ki:

“Hello. This is Will Entertainment.

We are writing our statement on Jo Min Ki’s recent situation. Firstly, we bow our heads in apology for our first statement, which was not made through a more certain and detailed confirmation, and made many uncomfortable.

We have understood the gravity of the continued situation, and we have thought about a way to respond while feeling the heavy responsibilities.

The situation has a larger social disturbance than any other. More than anything, we do not have smooth communication with the actor, and have therefore decided to cancel our contract with actor Jo Min Ki.

We apologize once again to everyone.

Thank you.”

Many actresses and actors in the industry have utilized their own influential voices to speak their support of the MeToo movement.

During JTBC’s News Room, actress Kim Tae Ri discussed the movement saying, “It’s because I know of the perpetrators’ social positions and the fact that the power they have over others is too great. I can’t pretend to know the suffering of the victims, but I thought that it was a big problem because if it had happened to me, I would’ve stayed silent as well. I hope this movement doesn’t end with exposing the offenders and their apologies, and I’d like for it to be a chance for improve society.”

Actress and singer UEE also extended her support during a press conference for her new drama “Oh Jak Du, the Husband Who Lives With His Wife’s Family”:While looking at the internet, I was also surprised and disappointed. I was very sad and thought, ‘These things happened’. As a woman, I’m supporting the movement.

Actress Shin So Yul and Actor Kim Ji Chul have also expressed their support by posting images on Instagram with the statements “#Metoo” and “#Withyou” written in black marker.