▲ Jeju National University. Photo courtesy Jeju National University via jnuri
The #MeToo movement has spread to Jeju after two professors at Jeju University were accused of sexual misconduct against female students.
This led a student body of Jeju National University to issue a statement demanding an apology from the faculty on behalf of the two professors involved.
The statement said: “Unforgettable and terrible things are still happening. University should be a place that pursues truth and justice, but unfortunately, it has become a place where people use power and their status to satisfy their own needs.”
They added: “The students are not professors’ tools or sex object. Students and professors should lead education together. The status of professor and student is not equal anymore and we cannot accept that the purpose of studying in university is going in a wrong direction.”
“The truths which were covered up are coming out to the public. We will not stay silent for the unreasonable and absurd things that happened on the campus.”
Of the two professors accused, both are currently under investigation from the police, while one of them has been suspended from his duties.
According to the Jeju Police, the first professor is 53 years old and was accused over an incident that took place in a lab last June. The second professor is 44 and is accused of inappropriately touching a student in his car in December last year.
The “Student Human Rights Committee,” which was set up to deal with the case, urged the accused professors to be removed from their classes, asked for an apology from the faculty, and urged the faculty and university management to come up with measures to stop this kind of incident from happening again.
While these incidents are the first to have spread to Jeju, they are by no means the first examples of the Me Too movement to have come to Korea. In fact, cases have been seen throughout Korea’s academic, culture and arts, press, and business communities.
#MeToo in Korea
The movement appears to have arrived in Korea in November with a number of reports in the corporate and legal world.
Since then, more high profile cases have surfaced. Perhaps the most high profile of which was from the director Lee Youn-taek who was forced to issue an apology after a Facebook post by an actress he had previously worked with accused him of sexual misconduct.
My. Lee, who is a former artistic director of the National Theater of Korea, said in a news conference that he was “ashamed and crushed,” adding that he was “ready to take all punishment, including legal responsibilities.”
Another case that has shocked Korea is that of 84-year-old poet Ko Un. Ko Un is one of Korea’s most high profile poets who has had has words translated into 14 languages. In Korea, he has often been touted as a potential candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The revelations, brought about by a fellow poet named Choi Young-mi, pointed to the influence that Ko held in the literary world. According to an article The Korea Times, Choi said that the social hierarchy of the literary circle made it difficult for victims to come forward about their ordeals.
However, since the claims have surfaced, he has stepped down from his positions as a professor at KAIST and Dankook University, two of Korea’s top universities, and his works are set to be removedfrom textbooks for middle and high school students.
These revelations have led many to point to the genderinequality found in Korean Society. According to the latest statistics from the World Economic Forum (2017), Korea is the 118th most unequal out of 144 counties. In the report, while Korea scored well in education, the record in Economic participation and opportunity was especially bad.
However, changes are being made to make it easier for those accusing. According to an article by The Korea Herald, lawmakers and political parties have recently announced that they will attempt to push through a change in Korea’s defamation law.
Currently, the law does not take into account whether the claims made by the defendant in defamation cases are actually true. This means that people who make claims about others, even if they are true, can be punished for speaking publicly.
This led some women and political activists to criticize the law as a challenge to victims of sexual violence.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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