In August, Sookmyung Women’s University students criticized Seoul Metro as they refused to display advertisements containing feminism content to be presented at subways. The denial has brought about a dispute among citizens about the necessity for Seoul Metro to determine a precise standard when displaying advertisements including opinions.
SFA (Sookmyung Feminists Association), a school club that builds movements toward feminism at Sookmyung Women’s University, attempted to put up posters related to women’s rights at the subway station. However, all of the eight papers for the advertisement were rejected by Seoul Metro merely because advertisements about gender equality induce many civil complaints. SFA originally planned out to display the posters on May 30, during the university’s festival period at Sookmyung Women’s University station. To put the advertisement, a total of 350 students participated in the fund-raising. SFA denounced that the restoration of the feminism advertisements is an indisputable sexual discrimination and a violation against the constitution. At the moment, the feminist advertisement is expected to be put up at Sookmyung Women’s University station for the contract term until this Sept.
When the argument about Seoul Metro was spread throughout the Social Network System (SNS) such as Twitter, more than 500 complaints were posted at the ‘Customer’s Voice’ notice board and citizens blamed that it was an irony to deny advertisements related to gender equality when those involving cosmetic surgery were widespread.
On the other hand, Seoul Metro contended that they didn’t neglect the feminist advertisements and said that there might have been a misunderstanding between students and the advertising agency.
Furthermore, they explained that the social commercials will be planned out to be under consideration as soon as possible because those types of advertisements are deliberated by the Korea Advertising Review Board. Seoul Metro implied that before starting the advertising review meeting, they will expand the committee’s scale from seven to nine people. They have also requested the Seoul Metropolitan Government to enable them to involve outside committees who can cover the area of sexual minorities and human rights as well. It can be said that Seoul Metro aims to improve the diversity of the members of the advertising review conference, which was previously limited to judicial officers and advertising managers.
In comparison to the current Seoul Metro policy about opinion advertising, London’s subway, which is referred to as the TFL (Transport for London), has different guidelines. Although the guideline entails that commercials involving images or contents that may generate controversy are prohibited, they have an exception where advertisements that encourage tolerance, deny prejudice, and handle social equality issues are accepted. TFL’s advertising management committee also includes experts in the field of human rights, the youth, and LGBTs. In contrary, the current Seoul Metro doesn’t have exceptions in the policy and through this controversy regarding the denial of the feminist advertisements to be displayed in public, shows the need for the institution to arrange an optimal standard that strives to create a society where every citizens’ opinion can be respected.
“The society considers the inequality as reasonable and therefore, a negative perception towards feminism organizations is spreading,” said Kim Hyeon-soo, a freshman from Elementary Education. “There is a need to inform feminism to eradicate these misconceptions, but it is regrettable that the Seoul Metro has refused the advertisements.”