#MeToo followed by #WithYou

By Im Eun-byel

Actresses step up to show support for victims of sexual harassments

  • Published : Mar 4, 2018 - 17:27
  • Updated : Mar 4, 2018 - 17:47

At a media briefing for the JTBC drama “Misty” on Friday, actress Kim Nam-joo showed up dressed in a luxurious black suit. While a black outfit for a formal occasion may seem ordinary, the suit was explicitly chosen to express the lead actress’ support for the ongoing #MeToo movement. 

Actress Kim Nam-joo wears a black suit at a press conference Friday at Digital Media City in Seoul. (JTBC)

Kim was falling in line with dozens of celebrities who wore black at January’s Golden Globe Awards to show their support for the campaign.

“I hope that society can listen carefully to those who spoke up bravely,” the veteran actress said. Through the occasion, she wished that the showbiz industry could “carve out the rotten parts of society and purify itself.”

The actress and some of her colleagues are trying to move things on by popularizing the #WithYou movement in Korea.

In the past month, the #MeToo movement has been in full swing. Dozens of victims came forward to accuse powerful actors and directors of sexual harassment. Some of the accused have admitted wrongdoing and stepped down from their positions. 

Protesters hold banners that read “#MeToo” and “#WithYou” at a campaign Sunday for women’s rights at Gwanghwamun plaza in Seoul. (Yonhap)

#WithYou is to a follow-up movement that represents support for the victims. Advocates of the movement have stressed the necessity of spreading awareness against sexual violence, as anyone can fall victim to such attacks in any parts of the society.

Kim noted that she too had been a victim of insults early on in her career in the entertainment sector, dominated by top-to-bottom power dynamics. “Anyone, not only me, can be a victim,” she highlighted.

Budding starlet Kim Tae-ri has joined the movement, defining the #MeToo movement as a “miracle.” In various interviews, Kim has voiced her will to stand by the victims of power abuse. While being featured on JTBC’s “Newsroom” talk show Thursday as a guest, she said, “I announced my support, in devastation, as I know the assailants’ power is strong.” 

A screen grab of Kim Tae-ri on JTBC`s "Newsroom" interview (JTBC)

“The structural problem is so grave, if I was in the same situation, I would have kept my silence,” the actress added. “The movement shouldn’t end with the repetition of revelation and apology, but be a stepping stone in creating a better societal structure.”

Singer-turned-actress Uee also voiced her stance, saying, “As a woman, I naturally support the movement,” at a media briefing for “My Husband Oh Jak-doo” on Friday. While support for the anti-sexual harassment initiative could be considered “natural,” in Korea’s tightly knit entertainment scene, it is not always easy to stand by accusers.

Actress Shin So-yul revealed that she was afraid of being blamed when declaring her determination to join the #WithYou campaign. She was worried about being labeled as a publicity hound, taking advantage of a grave issue for her own personal profit.

A reporter from a local media outlet recently revealed that an official stopped musical actress Ivy from answering a question related to the #MeToo movement, as “it is sensitive,” at a media session for musical “Red Book,” while the musical deals with the subject of discrimination against women.

Despite the difficulties, more actresses are coming forward to openly align themselves with the #WithYou movement. Actress Choi Hee-seo posted a photo of her palm on social media last month. The hashtags #MeToo and #WithYou were written with her signature on her palm. 

Actress Choi Hee-seo declared her will to stand by the #MeToo and #WithYou movements. (Instagram)

Choi revealed that she was ashamed for once brushing off victims’ stories as other people’s business. She announced her intention to stand by the movement.

“I may not be able to change the world with some words scribbled on my palm and a single click for posting, but small, powerful waves led to press conferences and online petitions to the Cheong Wa Dae website,” she said. “I upload this posting to participate (in the movement).”

After adding, “Not only actors but also people who are part of all the other worlds, their voices should be heard,” Choi quoted the last phrase of celebrated director Elia Kazan’s Actors Vow, “I will be heard.”

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)

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