NATIONAL

Pink elephant's 'Zootopia' protest aggravates Gangnam murder controversy

By 임정요
  • Published : May 23, 2016 - 16:56
  • Updated : May 23, 2016 - 17:52
A ruckus broke out Sunday at the makeshift memorial for the victim of an unprovoked murder at Seoul’s Gangnam Station exit 10, when a 31-year-old man surnamed Kim, dressed in a pink elephant onesie and a full head mask, promoted a “safer Korea with men and women hand-in-hand.”

(Online Community)

The killing of a 23-year-old woman by a schizophrenic man on May 17, who said he committed the crime out of his hatred for women who had “ignored and belittled” him, has since exploded in to a widespread movement among female activists who have turned the outdoor memorial at Gangnam Station into a demonstration against violence against women.

While a few men stood in crowd of sympathizers, many others displayed discomfort at being grouped as potential criminals.

Kim, now known as the “Pink Elephant,” expressed his opinion Sunday with a sign inspired by the recent pro-diversity Disney movie “Zootopia,” where predators and prey of the animal kingdom live in harmony.

The full contents of Kim’s sign read: “It is not the predators who are bad but the animals who commit crimes. Korea is currently the safest country in the world, but let us strive to create a prejudice-free and bias-free safer ‘Zootopia Korea,' both men and women hand-in-hand.”

Although what he came out to say was not meant to incite angered responses in itself, to those who did not know “Zootopia,” Kim’s pink elephant costume seemed outlandish and disrespectful at the site of mourning.

Some recognized the costume he was wearing to be related to the extreme-right online community Ilbe, whose members typically favor male dominance and female objectification, and demanded he remove his mask.



In a video on YouTube, Kim can be heard asking, “What have I done wrong?” with the surrounding crowd retorting, “If you have nothing to hide, come out from behind the mask.”

The heat escalated to physical contact as the mob tried to peel off Kim’s pink costume. Some allegedly punched and kicked him, prompting Kim to report them to police.

The Seoul Seocho Police said Monday they are investigating the case now categorized as a case of violence.

Another case of a middle school girl, who was violently pushed in the chest by a fellow woman while she protested in front of the memorial with a picket reading “I oppose both hatred against men and hatred against women” is also under investigation.

Byron Howard, codirector of “Zootopia,” tweeted in response to alerts from Koreans that misogyny is the opposite of what the movie is about and that “Disney will investigate.” 

(Twitter)

Apart from the case of Pink Elephant Kim, a number of scenes from the animated movie have been taken to mock the extreme feminist arguments with added-in Korean subtitles.

Meanwhile, the memorial made out of post-it notes has been voluntarily removed by the mourners for the purpose of preservation ahead of the rain forecast for Tuesday.

The removal began around midnight on Sunday and finished around 6 a.m. on Monday morning.

Those considered to hold symbolic worth will be displayed at Seoul City Hall, while the rest will be permanently stored at Seoul Foundation of Women and Family located in Daebang-dong, where other mourning notes from provincial towns will also be gathered.

Police made an official statement Sunday that the suspect of the Gangnam murder case suffered from mental illness for a long time and that his murder could not be categorized as a hate crime due to his unstable mental state.

Opponents of the police decision have vowed to hold public rallies.

Many women rights activists here have taken the matter further from the case itself, rather focusing more on individual women’s personal experiences of feeling threatened and oppressed.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)