Presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party toned down his stance related to the gender divide when asked by rival contenders during a TV debate on Wednesday.
As the candidates discussed the ways to handle the country’s low birth rates, Lee Jae-myung, the flagbearer of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, asked Yoon what he thinks of feminism, reciting Yoon’s previous comment that feminism has hindered young man and women from building the relationship, which in turn, affects the birth rate.
In response to Lee’s question, Yoon said, “I think feminism is one aspect of humanism. Respecting women as human beings, that is feminism.”
In the following exchange of words, the candidates shot questions at Yoon, denouncing him for focusing his campaign activities favorable to young male electorates, creating a gender gap in the electorates.
As Lee stamped on Yoon’s comment that there is no structural discrimination based on gender in Korea, Yoon also partly took back his remark.
“I cannot say (the structural gender discrimination) does not exist at all, but I believe it is not the right approach to collectively divide women and men,” Yoon said.
The two also clashed on “Nth room” law, which includes amendments of seven laws such as the Telecommunications Business Act. The law, which passed in the National Assembly in April 2020, was intended to prevent the recurrence of the massive cybersex trafficking case, dubbed the “Nth room” incident.
The law imposes liability on telecom companies in the case of such cybersex trafficking cases and mandates their censorship on illegal transactions on its platforms. Yoon claims the law should be repealed, saying that censorship suppresses freedom.
In Wednesday's debate, Yoon kept to his stance and said more research should be done to develop a new law that can better prevent such crime cases.
Sim Sang-jung, the nominee of the progressive Justice Party also criticized Yoon for using the term “budget for gender sensitivity” without properly knowing what it is.
Yoon previously accused the incumbent government of spending some 30 trillion on “gender sensitivity education” and said some of that budget should be spent on national defense.
Sim explained how the “budget for gender sensitivity education” is only a term referring to the government’s categorization process and not an actual budget for execution.
Denouncing Yoon’s pledge to strengthen punishment for false accusations related to sexual violence, Sim also accused Yoon of making gender-biased pledges to woo young male voters.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)