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Defense minister sparks controversy over remarks on women

Defense Minister Song Young-moo on Monday found himself in hot water over his remarks that women should conduct themselves in a “cautious manner.”

During a meeting with civilian advisers on sexual assault in the military, Song said that women should be conscious about their behavior as he discussed the military’s measures to prevent sexual assault during after-hours office gatherings.

“I saw my wife educating my daughter in detail about riding a taxi and dating a guy. Then I said to my wife, ‘Why shouldn’t you trust your daughter?’ Then my wife told me that sometimes things don’t work out for women. We have to make them realize it.” 

Defense Minister Song Young-moo (Yonhap)
Defense Minister Song Young-moo (Yonhap)

Faced with escalating controversy, Song told reporters that his comment was not meant to belittle women, saying he was simply trying to stress the importance of education on sexual assault by citing an example.

“It was not my intention to offend women. I should have clarified the objective and subject of the sentences in my remarks,” said the minister. “I was trying to talk about examples of sexual equality being compromised.”

Song’s remarks came amid escalating controversy over sexual assault. On Monday, an Army division commander was found to have been dismissed for allegedly sexually harassing female soldiers.

It was not the first time that Song has sparked controversy over inappropriate remarks offensive to women. In his speech to a battalion in the Joint Security Area, he said, “When it comes to miniskirts and pre-meal speeches, the shorter, the better.”

Song apologized after coming under heavy criticism on social media. He said he was only trying to assure soldiers his speech would be short after arriving late at the mess hall following his tour of the Demilitarized Zone.

By Yeo Jun-suk (