The ripple effect created from the New York Times’s coverage on alleged sexual harassment of Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood famous movie director, continues to shake the world. The revelation from last October began the #MeToo movement which encouraged sexual harassment survivors to come forward and speak out on their personal experiences.
In Korea, #MeToo movement spread like a wildfire after Seo Ji-hyun, an attorney, shared her story of sexual harassments in workforce last January through a JTBC interview. Seo also happens to be an Ewha alumna who entered the Department of Law in 1992. Since then, 294 of the school’s law alums signed their support on Seo’s exposures.
Seo’s revelation had not only received supports, but it has also become the gateway to Korean #MeToo movement. Students, inspired by the courage, began sharing their own experiences especially on ‘Ewhaian,’ an online community used solely by Ewha students and alums and ‘everytime,’ an anonymous online community vastly used by college students. Among the assailants in the allegations included the professors in the school.
The anonymity of these communities enabled a safety net in which the victims were able to voice out their experiences without having to worry about revengeful consequences.
Students participating in MeToo Movement feel that they are treading on thin ice as they publicly point fingers at faculty members in a much greater position of power. Yeonhap News, however, reported of an Ewha student who was sexually harassed on May of 2016 when she visited a professor at his office to thank him on teacher’s day. The student considered suing him at the time but decided against it for fear of revengeful actions.
She never visited him personally again after the incident even when the professor offered to connect her to a prospective job. The professor in the allegation is known to have already retired. With the spread of MeToo movement, the school’s Center of Gender Affairs wrote a column on March 5 at the school newspaper to support the bravery of whistle blowers. The center also offered to provide free mental and legal consultations. The content shared in the center is to be completely confidential and the follow-up measures would be taken in whatever method they prefer. Any Ewha member can find help via email@example.com or call (02) 3277-3229.
Along with the MeToo Movement, college students held a rally on March 8, international women’s day, under the name of ‘Women Liberation 100 percent.” The proclamation made that day included decriminalizing abortion and ending sexual harassments within school and workplace. The feminists in college gathered in Sinchon while larger assembly was held in Gwanghwamun, the same day.