On the night of May 17th, a woman in her 20s lost her life to man, in a noraebang located in SeoCho-dong, Seoul. The reason why this tragic incident raised a lot of media attention is that Kim, the perpetrator, claimed he intended to kill a random woman because ‘women ignored him’. The night after the murder, many people showed up at Gangnam station and commemorated the victim. The media then began to report on misogynistic implication behind this incident, as viewed by the numerous attendees of the ceremony. This surely led to a heated discussion. In response to their claims, some people advocated that it is unfair to generalize males and aggressively highlight gender issues.
As the self-proclaimed feminist groups like Megalia and Women’s Generation were involved in the event, the commemoration of the tragic victim tarnished into a big mess through a series of violence and controversies. In fact, the event itself is questionable of its intention because it was held by these very groups. For example, the ‘commemoration’ event entailed writing notes on post-its for the victim. Many of the notes had genuine messages from people. Some, however, incorporated the ideas raised by the aggressive feminist groups and fixed men on the safe and powerful side and women on the vulnerable and weak side. To those who posted contents involving a rather neutral perspective (i.e: promoting gender equality, hoping this does not cause division between men and women) were explicitly targeted for insults and humiliation.
According to the police reports and responses from various criminal experts in universities, the murderer was clinically ill and had been suffering from schizophrenia and paranoia derived from his personal trauma involving women. Therefore, the incident itself is rather distant from misogyny. The general public is currently following this notion and condemns the aggressive feminist groups who are encouraging divisive atmosphere, deteriorating the victim’s unfortunate death.
Of course, sexism is a prevailing problem in Korea, more serious than that of other developed countries (including categories outside crime). In fact, some statistics show that 52% of crimes committed targeted women, while 48% targeted men (Korean media recently reported on 90% of crimes targeting women but this is without any basis). Moreover, almost every sex-related crime is committed against females, and their genetic characteristics make them physically weaker beings. Unlike men, women actually feel fear when noticing an unknown presence while walking down a dark alley alone.
Perhaps, the lesson we can learn from this incident is that we should rethink about women’s position in our society, whether or not we developed certain prejudice that makes women susceptible to any type of discrimination and violence. Nonetheless, it is important we do not resort to extremist viewpoints, as displayed by some of the protestors at the commemoration event.
– Paul Jeon (’17)