When is a sausage just a sausage? Controversial ads fuel S.Korea’s sexism debate

This month three South Korean corporations and the Seoul police have needed to pull ads and different content material after males’s rights teams claimed that “small penis” symbols had been used, insulting males.

The offending photographs? Palms with the thumbs and the index fingers pinching in the direction of one another illustrating the reaching out for an object. However the gesture is additionally typically used to point one thing small in measurement and in South Korea, it is related to a strident, albeit now defunct, feminist group that used the picture in its emblem.

Exacerbating the issue, one advert and a menu concerned had been additionally promoting sausages.

Following its advert, South Korea’s largest comfort retailer chain, GS25, noticed a handful of members from the lads’s group “Man on Solidarity” protest outdoors the agency’s headquarters. The group’s YouTube channel, which posts movies of its protests, has gained greater than 200,000 subscribers in just two months.

GS25 withdrew its advert and fried hen chain Genesis BBQ pulled its menu, issuing apologies and stating that they had no intention to demean males. Kakao Financial institution Corp has apologised for a hand-drawn equally in one in all its ads and the Seoul Metropolitan police additionally eliminated a hand from a street site visitors advert saying it wished to keep away from any misunderstanding.

The controversy is the newest flare-up in long-running stress over gender rights in South Korea that has pitted women and men’s teams towards one another and which has additionally resulted in police wanting into whether or not feminine comic Park Na-rae broke any legal guidelines with a ribald joke made in March.

The joke on a YouTube video involving a Stretch Armstrong motion determine whose arms had been introduced close to his genital space resulted in a storm of complaints that a related joke by a male comic would by no means have been acceptable.

Park, 35, and her company JDB Leisure issued statements apologising and her YouTube channel was scrapped. Police are obligated to look into the matter after a grievance was filed on a web site set as much as handle residents’ grievances, although it stays unclear if expenses can be filed.

Park and her company didn’t reply to Reuters requests for touch upon the potential police motion.

Kim Garo, director of the ladies’s coverage division on the Ministry of Gender Equality and Household, stated whereas the issues of misogyny and misandry weren’t new in South Korea, the latest concentrating on of corporations and people was.

She stated it was tough for the federal government to intrude when protests took the type of client motion however it will proceed with outreach programmes that invited younger women and men to debate points equivalent to gender equality and jobs.


When President Moon Jae-in got here to energy in 2017, he pledged to be a president for gender equality, vowing to do extra to repair disadvantages for ladies in South Korea.

South Korea has one of many largest wage gaps of any OECD nation and low political illustration for ladies who maintain just 19% of parliamentary seats. Since Moon, ladies have seen some enchancment in wages and are additionally eligible for greater authorities subsidies than males when beginning a new enterprise.

Political scientists say, nonetheless, many younger males now really feel their very own wants and rights aren’t being sufficiently acknowledged, including to widespread discontent over the shortage of job alternatives for younger folks.

“Anti-feminist sentiment is robust amongst males of their 20s and early 30s, in addition to the era that is changing into adults,” stated Jeong Han-wool, a senior fellow at Hankook Analysis Firm. Analysis for a 2019 e-book he co-authored discovered 58.6% of Korean males of their 20s stated they strongly opposed feminism.

That complicates the outlook for the ruling Democratic Social gathering because it seeks re-election subsequent 12 months when Moon’s single five-year time period ends.

The social gathering has additionally misplaced assist amongst ladies after a number of sexual abuse scandals involving politicians, contributing to crushing defeats in latest mayoral elections for Seoul and the port of Busan.

Park Jun-young, a 27-year outdated engineering graduate college scholar, says he is amongst those that assume males at the moment are at a drawback.

“Feminism in South Korea began with gender equality, permitting ladies the identical entry and to interrupt the glass ceiling, nevertheless it’s became one thing the place the these days younger males – who aren’t higher off than ladies the identical age – have turn out to be a goal of criticism,” he stated.

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