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Bar brawl over gender turns into online melee

Nov 16,2018
A new front in Korea’s online gender war is opening up after a bar fight between two women and four men in Seoul on Tuesday left one of the women bleeding from her head.

Police booked three of the four men and both women on assault charges. Both men and women claimed that the other side had instigated the fight at a beer bar near Isu Station in Dongjak District, southern Seoul, on Tuesday morning. When police arrived on the scene that day, they found one of the women bleeding from her head and transported her to a nearby hospital. After questioning both sides, police booked both parties on assault charges since there was physical contact on both sides. After reviewing surveillance footage on Thursday, police said the women initiated the physical struggle.

Outraged by the police’s decision to arrest them, one of the women involved in the case told her side of the story on a popular online forum. The post’s author said that she and her friend were only trying to defend themselves after the men allegedly taunted them with discriminatory language and proceeded to beat them. The post was accompanied by a picture of her friend’s bandaged head and bloodied shirt, both the results of one of the men allegedly pushing her down a flight of stairs. The post states that the back of her head was so damaged that her “bone could almost be seen.”

On the internet, women rallied to their defense, claiming that the case was the latest example of widespread violence against women in Korea. One user posted a petition on the Blue House website calling for the real perpetrators to be revealed and punished accordingly. The petition - which received well over 300,000 signatures by Thursday - claimed that the women were taunted by the men for having short hair and no makeup. They also claimed that the men threatened the women in front of the police. Claims also emerged on other online forums that accused the men of attacking the women because they suspected the women were members of an online community that promotes misandry and radical feminism.

The men told the police that the row began because the women would not lower their voices at the bar after they repeatedly asked them to do so. They claimed that the women were the first to spew profanities at them, and that the women also hit and scratched them in various places. Some online commenters took the men’s side, saying that it wasn’t fair to label the case as discrimination against women. One commenter who said she witnessed the altercation claimed that the fight began after the men defended her from the women who had berated her for having a boyfriend. Police said Thursday that they will only be able to reach a conclusion about whether either side’s claims of self-defense are justified after questioning witnesses.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]