Korean state agencies under fire for lackluster #MeToo response

By Catherine Chung

Embattled ministries working on new measures to protect sexual violence victims

  • Published : Feb 23, 2018 - 19:00
  • Updated : Feb 23, 2018 - 19:00

South Korean government agencies are under fire for failing to take proper actions in response to the outpouring of sexual violence and harassment revelations across the country.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the National Police Agency are facing a barrage of criticism from the public, who say their support and protection for victims has been inadequate

Women carry banners as they gather to protest against sexual harassment in front of Tongyeong District Public Prosecutors’ Office in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Feb. 5. (Yonhap)

The Gender Equality Ministry said Tuesday that it would launch a task force geared toward increasing cultural awareness of gender equality, while vowing to implement 10 measures including education programs, teachers’ awareness levels, media regulations on plastic surgery and physical appearance, and gender sensitivity toward victims of cyber-sex crimes.

The Culture Ministry has so far only proposed opening three additional call centers for sexual violence victims.

After former actresses claimed they had been sexually abused by acclaimed stage director Lee Youn-taek, the public voiced concerns that the Gender Equality Minsitry’s task force does not directly address the #MeToo movement issues, especially the protection of the victims.

A woman holds a banner reading, “Apologize to the party concerned, surrender to the police” at a press conference to protest against theatrical director Lee Youn-taek in Seoul on Feb. 19. (Yonhap)

Sexual violence victims in Korea tend to suffer additionally from damage to their reputation at work or in their communities, due largely to the lack of state-sponsored counseling and legal assistance.

In response to the growing public criticism, Gender Equality Vice Minister Lee Sook-jin said Thursday that state agencies involved were now working out a new set of measures.

By Catherine Chung (