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Sexual assault victims will take legal action

Mar 06,2018
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Members of a joint committee against sexual violence in the arts and entertainment community speak out about the recent streak of sexual misconduct accusations at a press conference in southern Seoul on Monday. [YONHAP]



While the Me Too movement has managed to give victims of sexual assault a chance to voice out their stories, a joint statement from those working in the art and entertainment industry announced a new chapter in the movement in which victims’ testimonies may be used to take legal action.

On Monday morning, a joint committee against sexual violence in the art and entertainment community held a press conference in southern Seoul in response to the recent streak of sexual misconduct accusations in the cultural field, mainly centering on the numerous testimonies concerning theatre bigwig Lee Youn-taek. The conference, co-hosted by seven organizations including the Korea Sexual Violence Response Center, Women with Disabilities Empathy, Korean Women’s Association United and Korean Women Lawyers Association, began with a speech from Kim Su-hee, the president of Miin, a theater troupe.

Kim, whose story of sexual harassment kicked off a surge of stories exposing Lee’s sexual exploitation of young women, spoke of her will to bring Lee to court.

“These days have been so agonizing for me and the other victims, during which we had been filing official complaints against Lee,” said Kim. “We were hurt numerous times by news articles and social media posts that tracked us down and criticized us. But we received so much more help and support from others. We, the victims, have pulled ourselves together to form a joint defense counsel, and thanks to all the women’s rights associations, we stand here right now.”

Kim was followed by two other victims, Hong Seon-joo and Lee Jae-ryeong, who disclosed their accounts with Lee. As of March 5, there are 16 of Lee’s victims and a total of 101 lawyers in the joint defense counsel. The police will start an investigation this week.

“It’s time that everyone in society, including the government, the national assembly, and the press, all come together,” said Na Woo-ri, a representative of the joint counsel. “We must eliminate the statute of limitations on sex crimes to form a mature society where criminals are severely punished and victims are protected.”

The Me Too movement is strong in other cultural fields as well. After poet Choi Young-mi accused Ko Un, a renowned literary figure in Korea, of sexually harassing her years ago in February, Ko kept his silence to Korean press - neither apologizing or denying the rumors. On Friday, March 2, people got an answer from Ko.

Ko wrote a statement to British newspaper The Guardian, saying “I regret that my name has been brought up in the recent allegations. I have already expressed regret for any unintended pain that my behavior may have caused. However, I flatly deny charges of habitual misconduct that some individuals have brought up against me.”

Choi uploaded a post on Facebook refuting the writer’s claims on Sunday, saying that she will come forward with details soon. Another poet, Park Jin-sung, uploaded a Facebook post on Monday saying that Ko had pulled down his pants and shook his genitals at a younger woman in 2008.


BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]