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Yoon Suk-yeol’s campaign ad accused of ‘pitting men against women’

Yoon‘s campaign’s TV ad focuses on the key words “fairness” and “common sense.“ (YouTube)
Yoon‘s campaign’s TV ad focuses on the key words “fairness” and “common sense.“ (YouTube)
Presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol of the main opposition People Power Party has come under fire over a scene in his campaign ad where a man side-eyes a woman during a job interview, with the caption “fairness and common sense destroyed.”

In one scene during the one-minute ad, a nervous looking job interview candidate in a suit looks at another man sitting next to him briefly before side-eying a woman. As the man comes out of the room, he appears upset as he takes his name card off his jacket.

The ad has been criticized on social media.

“Why would you look around during a job interview instead of making eye contact with the interviewers?” one tweet read.

“What is funnier is that two out of the three interviewers are women, as if more women are in higher positions than men,” another tweet read.

The People Power Party has denied the accusation.

“The guy represents young people who are powerless and have no connections in South Korea,“ said Jang Ye-chan, the head of the youth division of the People Party Power’s election campaign committee in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“It is fake news (shared) among supporters of the Democratic Party of Korea to suggest the guy only stared at the woman candidate (during the ad),” Jang added.

Criticism is mounting from the party’s opponents, however.

In a statement released on Monday, the women’s committee of the Democratic Party of Korea’s campaign committee said the ad “gives the impression that a woman was accepted unfairly at a man’s expense.”

“The People Power Party has continued to sow division between the genders and encouraged misogyny,” the committee said, as it called on Yoon to take down the ad.

Yoon‘s campaign’s TV ad (YouTube)
Yoon‘s campaign’s TV ad (YouTube)
Kang Min-jin, head of the minor opposition Justice Party’s youth division, said the People Power Party is “relying on misogyny to win votes from one gender.”

Kang cited instances such as Hana Bank’s decision to hire with a gender ratio of four men to one woman, Dong-A Pharmaceutical’s ”sexist” job interviews, and the Seoul Metro and Korea Gas Safety Corporation’s manipulation of scores to keep women applicants out. “The examples of discrimination against women are countless,” she added.

The controversy comes as Yoon’s campaign promised to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, one of his more popular campaign promises that have also faced criticism. Yoon has also said in an interview that “systematic gender discrimination no longer exists.”

During a TV debate on Monday, he was asked to apologize by his rival Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea.

His response that he didn’t want to “spend time answering the question” was also met with controversy.

South Korea had the highest gender pay gap among the the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in 2020.

According to the organization, women earned 31.5 percent less than men on average.

South Korea ranked the lowest on The Economist magazine’s Glass Ceiling Index in 2019 – which measures where women have the best chance of equal treatment at work.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)
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