In response to the #MeToo movement resonating within the country, the Korean government has launched a response center for sexual violence occurring within the culture and entertainment sector.
The Korea Creative Content Agency and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism jointly held an opening ceremony for the gender equality center “Bora” on Thursday.
Bora’s function includes taking reports of sexual violence cases and providing professional psychological help, therapy and legal counseling for the victims, conducting campaigns to prevent sexual violence, carrying out case studies on surveys and sexual violence within the industry, and preventing the perpetrators from receiving government subsidy.
Women‘s Human Rights Institute of Korea director Byun Hye-jung (left) and Korea Creative Content Agency chief Kim Young-jun pose for a photo at the launching ceremony for “Bora” sexual violence center in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul last Thursday. (Yonhap)
A seven-member council -- consisting of experts in sexual equality, medicine and law -- has been appointed to give advice to the operators on issues such as how to support the victims and punish the victims.
“By seeing the world through a different perspective and by being able to see our neighbors suffering from sexual discrimination and violence, we wish to actively carry out actions (against sexual violence) with them,” said Kim Young-jun, the president of KOCCA, during the launching ceremony held at the KOCCA office in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul.
The KOCCA signed memorandums of understanding with the Women’s Human Rights Institute of Korea, the Korean Artists Welfare Foundation and the Korean Film Council for their cooperation in related projects such as creating education programs to prevent sexual violence, studies on how to raise awareness of the issue and establishing the hotline system to report violence cases.
Those wishing to report the cases can do so via phone (1670-5678), online (bora.kocca.kr) or in person by visiting the center located in the Yeoksam office.
The #MeToo movement went viral in the US in October last year after several women accused film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The movement spread to Korea earlier this year bringing to light sexual misconduct in the culture and entertainment industry.
Last month, stage director Lee Yoon-taek became the first person to be formally arrested for multiple acts of sexual violence toward actors. He was recently accused of 62 cases of sexual misdeeds from 1999 to 2016, 24 cases of which are punishable by law.
Film actor Oh Dal-soo was cut from all his works after he was accused of sexually assaulting fellow actors. While he apologized for his actions, he claimed that their relationship was based on mutual affection. The alleged victims maintain that it was an act of sexual violence.
Veteran actor Jo Min-ki was accused of sexually abusing female students at Cheongju University at which he had taught theater. After being investigated for the accusations and being dismissed from his teaching post, he was found dead last month in an apparent suicide.
Some of those within the theater industry say that the widespread sexual violence mostly derives from the strict hierarchy. In Korea, the amount of time one spent in the industry is directly related to his or her authority, making it hard for younger actors to speak out against more experienced actors or directors.
In Oh’s case, the alleged victims say that Oh’s seniority made it harder for them to protest.
After Lee Yoon-taek’s case surfaced, the International Association of Theater Critics-Korea released a public statement calling for severe punishment against sexual violence in theater circles.
“This incident is focused on sexual violence, but it is not unrelated to the hierarchy in the theater industry. The deeply-rooted hierarchy between the teacher and the students, among actors, and between genders paralyzed the perpetrators’ ability to reason and allowed them to justify their violent actions,” it said in the statement.
By Yoon Min-sik