Park Ji-hyun, an Icon for Women in South Korea: Bloomberg 50 2022

The Economistreported that South Korean women earn 38 percent less than their male counterparts, the largest gender pay gap of any Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development member country. Another common theory for the anti-feminist backlash points to Moon’s failure to curb youth unemployment and runaway housing prices, along with the rise in inequality. South Korea, which technically remains at war with neighboring North Korea, requires all able-bodied men ages 18 to 28 to serve at least 18 months in the military, causing delays in their education and early career that are perceived as giving women an advantage. “They believe they are being discriminated against,” Cheon Gwan-yul, the journalist who led the survey, said at the time. Like opponents of feminism in other parts of the world, respondents argued that the movement promotes female supremacy and misandry.

Social and economic discrimination, however, make the lot of divorced women more difficult. The husband may still demand custody of the children, although a revision of the Family Law in 1977 made it more difficult for him to coerce or to deceive his wife into agreeing to an unfair settlement. In the mid-1980s, the annual number of divorces was between 23,000 and 26,000, and in 1987 there were 45,000 divorces. In 1997 the WIC has established a networked women’s information system, “The Integrated Women’s Information System,” supervised by the Ministry of Political Affairs .

“If you find gender equality and feminism so important, you can do it with your own money and time,” said one lawmaker in his party. President Yoon Suk-yeol, elected last year, has suggested feminism is to blame for blocking “healthy relationships” between men and women. But he’s got it backward — gender equality is the solution to falling birthrates.

  • The ministry was established in 2001 to provide resources for girls suffering from sexual and domestic violence and to ensure polices do not discriminate based on gender.
  • With few government staff available to inspect public restrooms and items, it has been difficult for government agencies to find hidden cameras since they are usually only placed in a location for a short time.
  • Many feminist activists have to operate anonymously over fears of death threats.
  • Worse yet, the current government seems to be actively undermining efforts that gave women hope.

This must be done not only at the de jure level but also at the de facto level. Only in this way can women fully demonstrate their capabilities and contribute to society on an equal footing with men. Specifically, the Government must work to eliminate persistent, stereotyped concepts based on traditional sex roles and provide a climate conducive to women’s full participation in society. Male citizens between the ages of 18 and 28 are currently required to perform compulsory military service. Women are not currently required to perform military service, but they are allowed to join the military voluntarily. As of 2002, about 2,100 female soldiers were enlisted in the South Korean army. In 2020, there were approximately 7,550 women enlisted in the military, making up about 8.8% of South Korean soldiers.

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The NAP states “to ensure effective implementation and monitoring of the NAP, inter-agency meetings will be held twice a year in which all relevant ministries and agencies participate with civil experts present”. Enforces mandatory military service for all able-bodied men between the age of 18 and 28.

In 2017, 12.3 percent of the female workforce at public institutions or large businesses with at least 500 employees held managerial positions, lower than the average of 27 percent among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Data showed that in 2018, 73.8 percent of female high school students went on to universities, as opposed to 65.9 percent of male students. More women have been going to universities than men since 2005, with the university entry gap here widening between the two genders for the past 13 years. Park Ji-hyun was in journalism school when the #MeToo movement led women around the world to reveal their experiences of sexual abuse. In South Korea that included raising awareness of the pervasive use of “spycams,” recording devices placed in bathrooms and locker rooms to film women without their consent. Working with a classmate and writing under the pseudonym Flame, Park infiltrated and exposed a vicious online spycam ring, which had blackmailed girls as young as 12.

In spite of the above-mentioned advances and changes, the unemployment rate of women in higher academic careers still remains high. Most women workers are still engaged in low-wage jobs where they are subject to employment or wage discrimination. Although the participation of married women in economic activities is continuously increasing, the supply of public childcare facilities for children of low-income women workers falls short of the sharply growing demand. These problems have continued to increase despite the Government’s implementation of economic and social development plans. Improvement of women-related laws and social systems have failed to yield substantial results or to enhance the position of women.

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The Korean Constitution was amended in 1987, introducing a new clause on the duty of the State to promote women’s welfare and equality. The Equal Employment Opportunity Law drafted by the then government in 1987, went into effect in 1988. With a view to safeguard the security and welfare of single-mother households, the government enacted the Mother-Child Welfare Law in 1989. In 1963 there were 2,835,000 economically active women among a total female population of 7,670,000 aged 15 years and older and the percentage was 37.0 percent. The problems and barriers that women have faced should be recognized as social problems and should be resolved through national concern and policies. This will lead the development of women and therefore of the society and of the country.

Not to mention the violence itself, but in addition to that, victims often receive unjust treatment from legal institutions. Although social awareness may be heightened after the #MeToo movement, there still is a long way to go to implement material and structural changes. The increasing presence of women and the changes in Korean society have brought the government to the realization that it must develop new policies for women. By a presidential decree, the National Committee on Women’s Policies was formed in 1983. In compliance with the changing social environment, the government established the Ministry of Political Affairs to handle women’s matters in 1988. In the same year, 15 Family Welfare Bureaus with women directors were also established at the provincial government level. Women, who had been up to this moment for hundreds of years of history confined to the extended family, began to realize their own rights and some women leaders worked to construct various organizations.

Women in the military

Calling on Yoon to rethink his “ill-conceived plan”, the newspaper said the move could “do more harm than good” and “goes against the global trend of advocating women’s empowerment”. In September, the government faced calls to strengthen punishments for stalkers after a woman was murdered at work by a male ex-colleague who had been stalking her for three years. Women are poorly represented in boardrooms and in the national assembly, while campaigners have demanded authorities take action against an epidemic of spy cam crime, known as molka. Women in South Korea will be looking to their new president to drastically change course from his previous path.