You’re Miss-ing Out! (Part 1)

Did you know about feminism is a taboo topic in South Korean society? Let’s uncover the reasons why in this article.

Written by and designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)

 “I don’t like the women at my workplace,” my mother told me. “I don’t like feminism; it’s affecting society and women,” was what she later added on.

 A Personal Paradox


   As a young girl, I felt extremely wronged and upset when I brought up the feminism movement to my own mother and brother. Spending four years in an all-girls school truly fueled my passion and interest towards this social movement. This did not just apply to me, but to many of my friends too. 

  So I did not think much when I first mentioned feminism to my family and I told them that I was a feminist. The replies from them were not at all what I have imagined. 

  “I don’t like the women at my workplace,” my mother told me. “I don’t like feminism; it’s affecting society and women,” was what she later added on. The comments from my brother was not kind either, but to hear such words fall out of my mother’s mouth – an adult woman living in the same society I am living in, made a part of me crumble and disintegrate as the words sunk deep beneath my skin and started eating me from the inside. I felt betrayed as I tried to hold onto my beliefs. 

  But I knew that my grasp had loosened somehow.   


How is it different?


   Although feminism is a widely-supported movement all around the world, it is slowly becoming a “pain in the neck” in my native society. It is a taboo topic that cannot be freely brought up during brunch. Those who openly state that they are feminists are criticised and bashed by the public. In contrast, women who criticise feminism are praised to be mature, intelligent, and respectable. It is very ironic to see this movement which started out to empower women is being torn down by the very group of people who are supposed to benefit from it. 

  So, what exactly is the problem at hand?


What’s the issue?


  With the feminist movement being largely related to the patriarchy (a system whereby men are the more dominant population than the women), some people started associating the term “patriarchy” with men hating on women. This is when things took a turn. 

  A movement which was meant to spread awareness about gender discrimination and inequality soon turned into a massive, hatred-filled platform for certain people to project their hatred towards the general male population. They criticised their society and blamed most of their personal issues on all men. As the voices of this specific group of women grew louder, others who have had similar encounters started joining them. With that, instead of fighting for their rights and treatment which they should be receiving, they started spreading hate and their own interpretation of feminism. 

  These communities grew exponentially in a short duration of time. They made websites where members could upload their own stories and opinions on men in their society (they use the term “Han-Nam” (한남) to generalize the entire male population in South Korea; it has negative connotations and is normally used as an insult). These uploads are only meant to upset the readers and fuel their rage towards men, which further exacerbates the problem. The content uploaded is offensive and often seems too detached from reality. Yet, the more offensive the text, the more the members share it, and the more popularity these posts gain. 

  As the communities grew, so did the public’s attention on their actions and trouble which they were causing. With members of these specific groups referring to them as ‘feminists’ and playing the victim card, the true meaning of feminism became warped in the public’s eye. Misconceptions sounded like truths and no one questioned the credibility or looked up the facts.    


What is happening now?


  As mentioned above, new terms are being created among the people to describe certain people and situations. Apart from Han-Nam, there are other terms such as “Ggol-Femi” (꼴페미) or “Megal” (메갈) to refer to the members of this specific group of radical feminists. People who support feminism are immediately associated with these terms even if they disapprove of radical feminism. 

  For the radical feminists, they seem to be more aggressive. A movement referred to as “tal-corset” (탈코르셋) gained a lot of attention in Korea a few years ago.  “tal” refers to the action of someone removing something. Hence, the term was meant to encourage women to no longer feel obliged to conform to societal expectations. This movement resulted in many women not putting makeup, wearing comfortable clothes and cutting their hair. However, these radical feminists aggravated the issue by calling those who still liked putting on makeup and wearing pretty outfits “fake feminists”, even going as far to blame these “fake feminists” for being the reason why our society is running like that. As this persisted, the women who were being targeted soon got worn out by the constant harassment, and removed themselves from the feminist movement as a whole. 

  Feminism is no longer seen as a movement meant to ensure equality between both genders. In fact, the public acknowledges it as a case where a woman feels that she deserves a better treatment not because she is being discriminated for her gender, but because women are more superior than men. Although the radical feminists do not account for the majority of feminists in the country, their aggressive and vocal nature garner public attention, hence leading an uninformed citizen to believe that the actions of these radical feminists represent feminism as a whole in South Korea. 


Who are they?


  Now that we are done with the explanations, let us look at some of the biggest groups of these radical feminists. 


The Megalians

Megalian Logo Youre Missing Out

The Megalians are the most notorious radical feminist group in South Korea. When someone thinks of feminism, they are most likely to associate it with this community. They are known for attacking the entire male population, even their own family. The Megalian website were filled with reports of women stating that they “began hating the male gender because of this website” and other malicious remarks before being forcefully shut down in 2017. They also actively participated in “mirroring”, harassing men in order to reflect the supposed behaviour of the entire male population in South Korea towards women. Although their website was shut down, it seems like they are continuing with their activities through other means, such as Twitter. 


Writer’s note: The person who designed their logo mentioned that the hand sign was meant to represent the “=” sign, as in, equality between men and women. But she did mention that there may be other meanings behind this gesture. 


The Womads

womad logo youre missing out.PNG

The Womads are the second largest and notorious community after Megalians. After the closure of the Megalian website, some of the radical feminists decided to create an alternate website. The website is still up and running, and in order to become a member, you have to be biologically female. Unlike the Megalians who did at least had a shallow understanding of feminism (although not reflected in their actions), the Womads actively claim that men are the inferior population and are not quiet in expressing their hatred towards the opposite gender. They also shun the LGBTQ+ community, which the Megalians did not stand for. 

Writer’s note: They seem to be the most threatening and offensive group of radical feminists at the moment, judging by some of the posts which I have read. Their website contains offensive images, and just reading some of the posts gave me a major headache. 


Jjuck Bbang Cafe

jjuck bbang cafe logo

According to sources online, this community boasts an astounding 1.7 million members, and it is currently has the largest number of members joining the site. Although the website was created for women and teenage girls to talk about fashion trends, celebrity gossip and beauty surgery tips in the past, this all took a turn when members of the Megalians started infiltrating the community and influencing others there. Any posts related to makeup or fashion are now largely disapproved (going back to “tal-corset”) and are hardly seen nowadays. In fact, most of the recent posts talk about hating men, and no one seems to be disagreeing with such ideas.  


Writer’s note: As I was looking through the website, there were still posts related to makeup and fashion being uploaded there. They had many different chat rooms which were dedicated to different topics such as plastic surgery, celebrities and beauty tips, and I could not find any negative posts on the homepage. However, when I clicked on a post to read it in detail, the website did not allow me to as I had to be a member to view the entire website. I could not examine the website any further after that. 




  With all this in mind, it does not seem like it is enough. To know more about this issue, learning about various people’s opinions and thoughts is crucial. That, sadly, would be discussed in the second part of this series, where actual blog posts and responses towards radical feminism in Korea will be translated as we seek to hear from the people themselves. 

Opinion: My Society is Not Your Wallpaper

From its delicious cuisine to attractive idol groups that you ‘stan’, how much do you know about South Korea? Prepare to have your misconceptions debunked after reading this exclusive article!

Written and Designed By: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)

Introduction: Do you know kimchi? Do you know Psy?

In this day and age, it would be a lie if someone said they have never tried anything from South Korea, starting with their cuisines to listening to Korean pop artists and watching their Dramas. Okay, maybe not everyone, but with the recent surge in popularity in the renowned South Korean boy group, BTS, anyone should be able to tell you that the K-Wave is truly reaching its peak in this century. It should come as no surprise that several people have taken a strong liking towards this country, with the more extreme people being classified under the term “Koreaboo”, a person who tries to adopt an entirely new identity by embodying a culture that is not theirs.

Being a South Korean citizen myself who has been living in Singapore for the past 11 years, it has always been a pressing issue that has made me wonder why this phenomenon happens. Why would someone want to be of a different nationality? Are there any perks of being a foreigner in this land? Turns out, this was not the case. I was not given any advantages, nor any special treatment. Instead, I was mostly faced with jealous looks from schoolmates and people remembering my nationality before my name. Thus, it has come to my attention that as a foreigner studying in Singapore, it would be an insightful discussion for people to hear my side of the story, and my thoughts towards the trend of South Korea becoming an icon of idolization among many today.

How much of South Korea do you know?

How much of South Korea are we all exposed to exactly? For many people, it is through digital screens, photos, videos, posters, music, food, and other things which can all be manipulated and carefully filtered out so that the viewers are given access to certain content which the producers wish to show them. This creates a warped idea of the Korean society for international viewers. They are forced to wear rose-tinted glasses as they are made to believe that the things they see on their screens are actually mundane lifestyles that take place in the country.

Most people first learn about the country through the increasing popularity of K-Wave which is taking over the world by storm. This may not be bad for all, for such content is what the people want and expect from the media nowadays. Most of these viewers wish to see the kind of lifestyles these celebrities enjoy, especially those who earn millions of dollars at a young age and the actors taking on the role of an average girl who will most certainly end up winning the heart of a multi-millionaire’s son and become a real-life Cinderella. Such content helps distract many from their stress and develops a sense of hope that they may also have such life-changing encounters. For example, they dream of the day when they may bump into a guy in the corridors and drop all of their books in the process, and as they finally muster up the courage to look up,


The majority of such encounters are scripted. There are so many talented trainees out there who get lost in a sea of other equally talented teenagers because they were just not good enough, or their concepts were not unique enough. Not every single one of the “oppas” out there looks like the ones whom you have saved as your wallpaper. In fact, the reason why they become celebrities in the first place is because of their attractive, above-average outer appearance which will capture the attention of people which helps promote themselves as a person.

For those who have personally travelled to the country before, to be very honest, travelling to the country does not give you a better understanding than those who experience South Korea through the consumption of Korean media. Many tourists will make their way to the busiest, most developed part of the country and are unaware of the more traditional, slow-paced parts of our society. Sure, they know Seoul, but are they aware of the different parts of Seoul where the roads are still quite uneven and the small population of people selling little pockets of dried anchovies and chilli flakes in cheap makeshift tents on the side of the street?

What goes down behind the screens

So we have discussed one side of the story. What about the teenagers who are currently living in South Korean society? Just like the other parts of the world, they are, too, exposed to such carefully filtered out content from the Korean media and most of them are avid fans of K-pop and Drama as well. To be frank, there is not much difference between international and local fans. However, one thing that sets them apart would be that the local fans are aware that these celebrities who are appearing on their screens on a daily basis share their nationality and were born in the same environment as they were. What impact does this have on the Korean youths? How are they influenced by this culture of their own country’s media choosing to show the lives of only the chosen few in their society?

In South Korea, it is quite common to see students with dyed hair (usually in various shades of brown), stained lips, and a pale face with no traces of blemishes. Most schools do not object to this and are quite liberal in allowing their students to put on makeup at a very young age. This has become the norm in our society, where there is a certain beauty standard that most strive to achieve since young.

(Disclaimer: please refer to your Code of Conduct. The author takes no responsibility for those who fail to clear the coming Attire Grooming Check)

It should be known that this is common between majority of the boys and girls, with both of them trying to follow certain beauty and fashion trends just so that they can fit in and be recognised as an ‘In-Ssa’, a short form for the word ‘insider’ ( a person who is considered to be popular, and is well-liked by a lot of people with many friends).

As a student myself, I have no objections to students wearing makeup to school to a large extent as there is some merit to putting on makeup. For some people, they feel more confident and less self-conscious by putting on makeup. For others, they use makeup to express their inner aesthetic and let their colours shine through as a form of self-expression. However, I do think this is pressuring young teenagers and young adults and, in a way, manipulating them into thinking makeup should be worn from a very young age. Those who do not choose to put on makeup are considered to be unconcerned with their appearance, hence being labelled as lazy and low-maintenance.

Observations over the last few years lead me to the conclusion that the number of students dabbling in using makeup is rising annually, and several makeup brands are aware of this. Hence, they resorted to pushing out products such as lip tints bottled in small, adorable containers and lipsticks disguised as crayons. Such products are meant to mostly appeal towards young teenagers and students, as the older consumers will not be as convinced to buy such products just because of its packaging. Some major brands which are the main contributors of such products are Tony Moly and Etude house, with Tony Moly making an entire collection of makeup products which were designed to look like normal stationery. (Author’s note: With a line of makeup named “My School-Look”, can their intentions be any clearer?)

Final Conclusion

At the end of the day, I would like to restate how my intention of writing this article was not to bash my own society, but instead to shine light on the problems which a lot of people do not seem to be aware of.

 Some questions for those reading this article: Did your perspectives on South Korea change after this? Will you still be able to like the country as much as you did before?

*Author’s Note: “Sunbae” is a term used to refer to seniors in Korean.

Image credits: pinterest