Women’s issues such as Me Too movement and Burning Sun Scandal are hot potatoes in Korea. As these problems have not been exposed well before but have become issues recently, there are many different views and responses on these problems. The UOS Times felt the need to be advised of the right directions of how we should deal with these problems and thus interviewed Lee Mi-kyung, a Chief of Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center (KSVRC).
1. Please introduce yourself. What kind of work are you in and how did you start this?
I am an activist, studying Women’s Studies and campaigning for anti-sexual violence. Through my professor in college, I found out that there was a study of Women’s Studies, and I was surprised that the discrimination and inequality I have experienced are verbalized in that field. Researching Women’s Studies and being an activist in KSVRC became a really important turning point in my life.
In 1990, while teaching Women’s Studies at universities, colleagues and I gathered to prepare for the opening of a sexual violence counseling center that could not be found in Korea at that time. The counseling center not only provides legal, medical, and psychological support to the victims of sexual violence, but also does various activities such as carrying on campaigns to change the gender culture of our society and violence prevention education programs. At the center, we also monitor and give criticisms or recommendations on policies of the government.
2. With the Me Too movement, Jang Ja-yeon Incident and Burning Sun Scandal have become major social issues in recent days, raising concerns about female victims of various sexual violence even more. What kind of attitude do you think people should have towards these incidents and victims?
Those series of incidents share the same vein in that those in power are the ones responsible for the violence committed. There was also suspicion of collusion between them and the investigative agency, and exploitation of women as sexual tools in all these incidents.
The Me Too movement is the stern voice of the victims towards the society and the perpetrators to stop the sexual violence.
They are crying for sincere apologies, proper punishments, and changes in the society and culture. Even though our society has made a lot of progress compared to the past, it seems it is still within our culture that sometimes we make issues out of the victims as well.
Nonetheless, a proper investigation and trial of these cases should be done in the first place. Furthermore, we must consider what we should do and how we can help bringing the victims back to their normal lives. For example, we should be able to deter people from posting inappropriate video clips, judging others’ appearances, or using sexually harassing languages in everyday lives.
3. Also, how is it desirable for the government and the media to deal with these issues?
In case of AhnHee-jung scandal, Citizens’ Coalition for Democratic Media’s analysis shows that TV Chosun made reports which unnecessarily put too much attention on the victims with excessively provocative headlines and videos. Media need to stop those reports which only hurt the victims even more and must do in-depth coverage about the bottom cause and social meanings. Also, the government should promote and promise that it would guarantee women’s rights in every aspect. In addition, following the recommendations of United Nation (UN), the government has to take action against overused lawsuits against the victims. Lastly, the government needs to implement effective education programs about respecting victims, especially for investigators, and establish laws and systems which can lead to the increase in the reporting rate of sexual violence and guarantee security of the victims or women.
▲ Lee Mi-Kyung smiles in front of the posters
4. Many people see these issues as social problems as the prosecution, power, police, and media are all tangled up in aforementioned matters. What do you think is the root cause of these kind of issues?
Those incidents are direct examples that reflect the culture of infringing on women’s rights that has been shared among men. This culture can be attributed to the lack of human rights education in our society. Many people do not know how to respect and be considerate to others. They also do not know what their mental attitude has to be when they are in relationship with others. After all, this is a matter of lack of empathy. Therefore, education on human rights sensitivity should be implemented systematically and effectively from a very young age to correct and destroy such wrong culture.
5. What effort can we put forth to deal with the women’s issues more maturely?
It is most important to practice yourself in little things everyday life. As I said earlier, we should stand up against the violence and raise issues firmly whenever necessary. It is a thing that everyone can and should do. Also, a proper education is indispensable. Adults should educate their children to pay attention to even petty tricks that we used to think of as trivial things, such as raising a friend’s skirt, and teach not to play such tricks. If we tolerate those small things, the children would not be able to realize that they are wrong and, they may not even feel guilty about serious things. Finally, people need to encourage victim’s brave behavior and band together against the violence, which would give strength to the victim.
The UOS Times hopes this article can become a help in developing a more mature perspective on these issues. If we continue to pay attention to these problems and urge the necessary actions to be taken in order to resolve them, our society will surely be able to develop in a better way.