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2018-03 12

[Opinion][Op-Ed] #MeToo

Min Byung-doo, a member of the Korean National Assembly who was accused of sexual harassment through the widely spreading Me Too movement in South Korea, announced his decision to resign on the 10th of March, 2018. He is the first to voluntarily resign as a result of accusations brought forth by the Me Too movement. Likewise, the movement is gaining much power and influence in Korea, helping women from all walks of life to make their voices heard. The #Me Too movement is now a global movement. How it all started Now a global movement for women’s rights, Me Too was started in the United States in 2006 by Tara Burke and was popularized by Alyssa Milano. The movement gained international acknowledgment just last year when the renowned movie director Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment and non-consensual sex by more than 80 women. Among the accusers, famous actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Eva Green were included. The phrase #MeToo started to be used on Twitter. The movement spread to other industries within the US, but also to other countries. Now it is estimated that the Me Too movement has been diffused to at least 85 countries worldwide including India, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Many of the cases involve people working in the same industry with male offenders in a higher position victimizing their female subordinates. Prosecutor Seo Ji-yeon on JTBC Newsroom. The screenshots subsequently say, 'What happened in 2010?' and 'Weren't there other people present, too?' (Photo courtesy of JTBC) Me Too, South Korea Korea, although a bit late, is catching up with the global trend. On January 29th, a brave prosecutor named Seo Ji-yeon reported her experience of sexual assault by her senior who, until this story was released on JTBC’s Newsroom, used to be the Justice Ministry’s Prosecution Bureau chief Ahn Tae-geun. She explained what happened at the funeral eight years ago, whether it was her intention or not, pulling the trigger of the Me Too movement in Korean society. Lee Jae-jung, previously a lawyer and now a congresswoman, showed her support the following day. Lee later shared her experience of sexual harassment, too. The Me Too movement in Korea then started to spread like a wildfire when students and staff anonymously accused renowned writers and celebrities. Poet Go Eun was one of the first big names to be reported. Lee Yoon-taek, Oh Tae-suk, Cho Geun-hyun, and the deceased Cho Min-gi followed in their wake. The movement that started with the legal industry was transmitted to the literary world and the film industry, where seniors and big names have god-like power over the wannabes. Men with power were accused of harassing or raping dozens of women in lower positions. Differences and problems; Korea is not a gender equal society Yet, there seems to be a significant difference between the Me Too movement in Korea and the US. While many famous actresses voiced out to report their experiences and publicly showed support to the movement in the US, the majority of the allegations made in Korea are anonymous. Some say that Korean women are putting less at stake by hiding behind anonymity, and that the movement can be misused to disgrace innocent people. There are already ‘believe-it-or-not’ stories of women threatening their ex-boyfriends or men they're in a hostile relationship with to ‘me-too’ them to the public. However, the truth behind so many Korean women choosing to wear the mask of anonymity to tell their stories is due to the presence of factual defamation and the secondary victimization by the public and the press. Factual defamation is a type of criminal offense where a person can be prosecuted for openly telling something about someone, although it is true. However, Korea still chooses to keep its factual defamation law, along with Myanmar, Kenya, and Indonesia, despite the advice from the United Nations Human Rights Committee to abolish the regulation in 2015. However, the Constitutional Court ruled factual defamation to be constitutional in the following year. It can be tough for victims of sexual violence to officially report the case to the police. That is due to the unique social atmosphere of Korea. Another reason is that there is an uncomfortable culture in Korea where the victim of sexual violence is often accused of being a gold digger or being the cause of the incident. Women luring men with the promise of sex and then threatening to report them to the police unless a settlement is paid is a scam called ‘flower-snakes (ggot-baem)’ in Korea. While only 0.05% of the total sexual violence cases turn out to be scams, it is often questioned whether the accusers are ‘real victims,' especially when the accused is a famous figure. The public's doubt and the press's articles written in an offender-friendly tone inflict secondary harm to the victims. In short, women in Korean society are already putting a lot at stake just by openly sharing their experiences. They could be prosecuted for hurting the offender’s reputation, be portrayed as a flower snake by the public, lose their job, or be counter-sued for calumny. Famous figures would have to put their entire career, as well as future opportunities, on the line to publicly support or participate in the Me Too movement. The fact that the participants of the movement are considered brave and the fact that women have to put their career at risk to tell the truth, shows how much is left for Korean society to improve to achieve equality. Kim So-yun

2018-01 29

[Special][Op-ed] Unified Korean Women's Ice Hockey Team in PyeongChang

The 2018 PyeongChang Olympics is about to raise its curtains in 10 days. Aside from the fact that the Olympics is the quadrennial global festival, PyeongChang is drawing the world's attention because of the IOC's (International Olympic Committee) approval of a unified team of the two Koreas. Although the discussion of unified participation began back in 2011 during the foundation of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games, the decision was made when the deadline for submission was way overdue due to the seemingly hasty decision to share the 22 player roster in women's hockey. South and North Korean ice hockey players are taking a photo after the 2017 IIHF Women's Ice hockey World Championship in April 6th, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Yonhap News) Ice hockey is considered ‘the game’ in winter Olympics. The South Korean National Ice Hockey Team has never made it to the Olympics because they were not qualified. Therefore, 2018 is the first year ever for Korea to play in the big game. The International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Skating Union approved Korea’s entry as part of a special favor for the hosting country. Granting entry for the hosting country was abolished in 2006, while the following Winter Olympics – Toronto and Sochi – were hosted by countries with strong ice hockey teams. Korea ranks 23rd internationally. The issue of the unified team in women’s ice hockey appeared on the table in early January after Kim Jong-un's new year's greeting speech where he expressed his positive opinion in participating in the PyeongChang Olympics. In the high-level talks in the Panmunjom, North Korea’s participation in the game was discussed, leading to related discussions such as the use of the unified flag or how many athletes and cheerleaders should go to the South. In the following vice-minister level conference, both Koreas agreed to march together under the unified flag, and the ‘fear’ of the united team for women’s ice hockey became a real concern for many people. Then, the IOC agreed to ‘the Olympic deal’ on the 21st of January to grant united entry with 22 North Korean athletes, and most symbolically, accepting the South Korean government’s request to enlarge the quota for women’s hockey. The two Koreas will participate in the game with a total of thirty-five players, with twelve of them being North Korean. The coach, Sarah Murray – now the coach for the united team – will be mandated to use three North Korean players in each game according to the Olympic Korean Peninsula Declaration. South Korean president Moon Jae-in and the president of IOC Thomas Bach. Moon is assuring Bach that the Olympic Games would not be threatened by regional conflicts in September 20th, 2017. (Photo courtesy of insidethegames) The legal base for the unified team lies in the Special Act on the Support for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Game, article 85, which was established in 2011. Despite the fact that the unified team is not a news, more than 70 percent of the South Koreans seem to disapprove the government’s decision. An Instagram post from the national hockey team player Lee Minji on 20th, January raised sympathetic sentiment among the people, too. She mentioned that “a second in the field is invaluable for every player” and that she cannot understand how “the decision will have a minor impact on the athletes”, criticizing the authority. Thomas Bach, president of IOC spoke “The Olympic Games show us what the world could look like, if we were all guided by the Olympic spirit of respect and understanding,” and I agree to his point that the Olympics should be about the spirit of peace and global unification. Although many Korean people harshly criticize the Moon administration as far as to call '2018 Pyongyang Olympics', it is understandable for the president to take the international spotlight to show the world how the two Koreas are working towards peace. One of the main reasons why South Korean corporates are having a hard time receiving foreign investment is the unstable political situation in the peninsula. Although many Koreans do not foresee the war to break anytime soon, the ten-year long hostility during the Lee and Park administration and Trump sitting in the Whitehouse did not help the situation between the North and South Korea. Now that Moon struggles to thaw the relationship, the Olympics seems like a huge opportunity to alleviate the distrust. 2018 PyeongChang Olympic will be the first Olympic in history for the two Koreas playing as one. Taking the Olympic spirit; "to build a peaceful and better world" into account, peacemaking after the tensions built up due to the missiles late 2017 seems like an adequate timing. Moreover, there are several widespread misunderstanding behind the name 'Pyongyang Olympics'. One is that the South Korean flag will not be raised during the games. The unified flag will fly only after the events where the North and South Koreas have jointly participated. Another misunderstanding that shared code of 'COR' is by the request of North Korea, while in fact, the code comes from French term (IOC's official language aside from English) Corée du Sud and Corée du Nord. The North and South Korea is entering the 2000 Sydney Olympics with a unified flag. The two Koreas marched together in the opening ceramony. (Photo courtesy of Hankyoreh) There are disagreements to the decision from the general public and the politics, pointing out that South Korea and the United States have agreed to postpone the annual joint military drill for North Korea taking part in the Olympic Games. Some papers wrote that this is all part of North Korea's plan to acquire more ballistic missiles and strengthen their military power. We do not know if that allegation is true or not, but North Korea would not have agreed to take part in the games if they had nothing to benefit from. By showing the two government's will to build peace and bring security in the international society, both nations will benefit during and after the games. Kim So-yun

2018-01 23

[Special][Op-Ed] Is Banning the Early Education Really Necessary?

Korea is known to have excessive enthusiasm towards education, and one of the very first private forms of education children receive is English. Nevertheless, the Korean government, alongside with the Ministry of Education is working hard to ban early education, which usually refers to private education for children under 8, which is when elementary school begins. As part of the effort, the Ministry of Education announced in December 2017 that they will ban after-school English classes for pre-schoolers starting March 2018. This ignited the already existing conflict of interests between the parents wanting to teach English to their child as early and as fast as possible, and the government trying to restrict such actions and protect young children’s rights. It is somewhat a norm for pre-school children to learn English. There are even English kindergartens where they intensively use English throughout the day. To provide some background information, children aging from five, or sometimes as young as two to three, go to either pre-school (what is known as yoo-chi-won in Korean) or a daycare center (which is known as uh-lin-eeh-jib in Korean). It might sound similar, but they are established under different laws and operate under different ministries. The former has its foundation under the Early Childhood Education Act, and the Ministry of Education supervises and manages 9,029 pre-schools all over the nation. On the other hand, the daycare centers are founded and are operating based on the Infant Care Act, and managed by Ministry of Health and Welfare. But the Lee Myung-bak administration contrived the Noori Curriculum (the name itself was created during the former Park Geun-hye administration) through the amendment of Enforcement Decree of the Infant Care Act, article 23 to take a step forward towards free education for children from three to five. This is how the Ministry of Education can prohibit after-school English education in the curriculums of both pre-school and daycare centers. This annunciation, as anyone can easily expect, triggered a heated debate within the nation. Many parents are against the policy and show concern on the balloon effect, which refers to a situation where the phenomena moves into another area of less resistance rather than disappearing, like when a latex balloon is squeezed: The air is moved but does not disappear. They voice out that early English education is not an option anymore, so banning it in the pre-schools and daycare centers would simply herd the children to private institutions, which are more expensive and, therefore, put more burden on families. They also argue that early education is the key to language education and that most of the after school classes for English are taught through playing, such as singing or gaming. Some even mention that the Ministry of Education has to also take back the resembling restriction for the first and second-grade elementary school students. Although they did take a step back, the government seems to remain obstinate in their position regarding early education. Announcing for the entire reexamination of the policy on the 16th of January, the Ministry of Education made it clear that there still is no change in their principle that early education should be restricted. Their argument is mainly based on recent findings in neuroscience that early education, in fact, does not help the infants or young children to learn a second language. Numerous studies, namely from the Korean Institute of Child Care and Education, have shown that children, equally at best, absorb less of a new language. Therefore, the government seems to consider after-school education as a physical and psychological burden for young minds and should be restricted by law. Korea is one of the top countries with the most private education per person. However, as an individual who speaks English through early education and without a single month abroad, I think it is a matter of ‘how’ pre-schools deliver the education than ‘if’ they should. One of the main reasons why the Ministry of Education took a step back, in this case, was because people pointed out that the way the education carried out in the field is not child-abusive as they think it is. Many children are actually having fun learning a new language in an entertaining way, and it is vastly beneficial for their future being able to speak English fluently, especially considering the quality of English education in the current school curriculum. The way they are being taught right now, the children will be ‘acquiring’ English rather than ‘learning’ it. Without significant innovation of the current school curriculum to be actually effective, banning pre-school extracurricular activity seems like a tape to a dam crack. If they truly wish to tackle the widespread enthusiasm for early education, the government should first explain thoroughly and persuade the people, strengthen public education, and then ban both public and private early education. Wishing parents to suddenly stop being thirsty for more education like a child waiting for Santa Claus does not solve the root issue. Kim So-yun

2017-12 27

[Special]Not Helpful, HELP

Finally, another semester has ended, and the grades are all out. For the second and third graders, A HELP score is also included in their GPA this semester. And as usual, HELP is once again at the center of confusion due to the massively miscalculated difficulty by many students. Let us look into issues related to HELP in detail. What is HELP? In order to better understand the controversies and issues, first, a reader must understand what HELP is at Hanyang University (HYU). The series, of course, was developed in 2007, in order to prepare Hanyangians to become leaders in society. Professor Song Young-su, chief officer of the Leadership Center mentioned: “The Leadership Center developed a textbook for leadership and tried to integrate such leadership processes into the culture of HYU” in the 171st issue of College Education. The HELP curriculum consists of four respective courses: HELP 1 through 4. Each course is mandated to the students in according to grade and included in the graduation requirement. Each course has its unique focal point and contents. For instance, HELP 1 is also known as ‘Value Leadership’. The course focuses on the values of Hanyang University, induce ‘Pride in Hanyang’, and the core value in the contemporary society and business. From the official description given by the school, it almost makes the curriculum look perfectly reasonable or even beneficial for Hanyang students. However, there is a wide disparity between the idea and the reality. Issue number one; HELP 4 (self-leadership) In May of 2016, two pictures that were irreverent to the lecture were shown in the ninth week of the HELP 4 lecture. The pictures were both implying that women are materialistic, which seemed to promote sexism, materialism, and lookism. The contents instantly provoked rage among Hanyangians and the General Student Council. Han-ma-di handled the issue in a quite satisfactory way. A screen capture from the 2016 HELP 4 lecture. The caption says 'steal the heart! provoke the desire! sell the dream!' (Photo courtesy of HYU Leadership Center) First, they openly required the school to instantly delete the problematic pictures and apologize with a promise that a similar incident would not happen to the students. The school did accordingly after six days, guaranteeing they would form a task force to review the whole contents and notify the student body about the revision made, if any. Second, Han-ma-di did a survey among 3443 Hanyangsians asking whether HELP should be canceled or excluded from the graduation requirement, of which 73.8% responded yes. Therefore, the General Student Council demanded the school to lift the requisite of the entire HELP curriculum. The school countermanded only the troubled course, HELP 4. Furthermore, they granted a full revision of the content along with the name of the subject starting in 2018. Although the due date has yet to come, it seems like the anti-discriminatory texts they have promised have not been realized up until today. Here are some statements provided during the lecture in lesson 13 of English HELP 2, fall semester, 2017. Before going to a meeting, check if your makeup is too thick. Do you have an extra pair of stockings? They should be in apricot or neutral color. Is your outfit or accessory too showy? The above-stated comments are bluntly discriminatory towards women, and it is a shame that in the year of 2017, Hanyang University is mandating such materials to all of the students. This was part of the guideline for final assignment of English HELP 2 this semester. Although the course is supposed to be entirely in English, some of the key information is delivered in Korean, and the website they used to explain it is also in Korean, with all the functions and buttons in Korean. Photo courtesy of Leadership Center Issue number 2, HELP in English HYU is proudly known as one of the most global schools in Korea, aiming to have 2500 full-time international students by 2020. There were 2247 international students in HYU counted until 2014, which is a substantial number. These students, because they are also full-time students like the domestic students, are also subject to the HELP requirement for graduation. Thus, they take the English version of HELP along with some domestic students who feel English is more comfortable or for some other reasons. Another problem lies in the translation of the course. Personally, I would consider it not to be done. Here are some example sentences taken from this year’s English HELP 2. I would like to mention that these are the exact words. When we usually look for a book regarding science, we only find a book written by the scientists, or a book by the philosopher of science who wrote about the scientific method, or a book written by the science historian writing about the history of science after thoroughly mastering the history of science, I shall say that his book generalized those three methods. Firstly when we think of science and technology, we don’t have any ideas about the background or any knowledge even though we are in a hurry to implement the technology such as TV media, internet, car, or trains we know the convenience. In fact, even when we drive a car, we don’t know well about the mechanism, so, like Korean, when they have to become familiar with machine civilization, people get confused, and people often face the various problems when using state-of-the-art science and technology especially when they are in pre-modern mental attitude, so in order to overcome those problems, we need to know how we get science and technology while relishing it. The translation that seems to have been done by Google rather than a person gives confusion to the course takers who cannot understand the Korean lectures given in the course. Considering that this is part of the essential courses and that they have to take a test with the materials, the situation is lamentable. As the promised deadline of the full improvement on the text is coming up, I look forward to the leap. Kim So-yun

2017-11 20

[Special]Ich hab geträumt von Manderley (I dreamt of Manderley)

On the 15th of November, News H visited Blue Square in Hannam-dong to watch the musical, Rebecca. Although there was more than an hour left until the show, the whole building was crowded with people taking tickets and pictures. The air was filled with joy and excitement. Continued from the last week’s ‘Stepping into the Life of Claude Monet’, this week’s special article would also review a cultural event. The Musical, Rebecca is performing in Interpark hall, Blue Suare. Delicate structures and highly complimented musical numbers are impressive. (Photo courtesy of EMK) Rebecca, where you may be ‘Ding ding’ the chime, commencing the start of the show, rang and all of a sudden, the 3-story full-house became quiet. The musical, Rebecca, like most of the musical pieces hitting the box office, is a translated production. This piece is also one of the renowned ‘one source multi-use’ product, originally based on Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca (1938). Alfred Hitchcock also made a movie based on the story. Although most of the events happen in a peaceful costal town in the United Kingdom, the whole play is written in German and made in Austria. One of the interesting parts of the story is that Rebecca is dead from the very beginning and, thus, does not come on stage until the end. Moreover, the name of the main character ‘Ich’ (‘I’ in German) is not mentioned throughout the play and is only called as ‘ Winter’. This ‘Ich’ describes and leads the entire story. 'Ich' is singing the opening number 'Ich hab geträumt von Manderley (I dreamt of Manderley)'. 'Ich' leads the entire story until the end, but nobody knows her name. (Photo courtesy of EMK) ‘Ich’ does not come from a wealthy family background, so she makes her living by being a paid friend of a rich, old lady. One day, on a vacation in Monte Carlo, ‘Ich’ meets Maxim de Winter, a famous British noble. Like most of the story goes, they instantly fall in love and get married. However, the charm of this particular musical comes from getting rid of the cliché, ‘happily ever after’ storyline. ‘Ich’, happily married, expected her life to completely turn around and the rosy atmosphere to be there forever. Her life did turn around completely but not in a way she had expected. The deceased Winter, Rebecca was unimaginably beautiful, intelligent, and also had a powerful family background. All servants and maids in the house seemed to still miss her and had a hard time accepting the new Winter. Especially Mrs. Danvers, the head housekeeper still preciously takes her old master’s belongings and even her bedroom. Mrs. Danvers is also one of the leading roles in the show. In this particular show where News H paid a visit, a former idol Ok Ju-hyun played the role. Despite the widespread belief that idols do not sing well, and they cannot settle as a musical actor, Ok is now widely acknowledged as one of the top musical actresses. She made her debut in 2005 as ‘Aida’ in a Broadway blockbuster Aida. At that time, she was harshly criticized for her acts. Nevertheless, through hard work and practice, she is now a renowned actress with more than 18 awards in the musical area. Ok passionately acted and sung as Ms. Danvers on that day, too. More Koreans in the Korean Market As the full house of this particular performance shows, the Korean musical market is rapidly growing. Namely, Rebecca itself recorded a 300 thousand audience until today. Considering that, the last shows usually draw bigger crowds, the number is expected to grow even more. In Hyung-geun, an executive director in EMK musical company mentioned that the “Korean musical market has been commercialized for only 20 years now, and many factors such as strong copyrights and existing manias show a bright future for the industry." However, there are worries regarding the long-term sustainability of the industry. Most box office hits are imported and translated. This does generate a lot of fortune and records but does not foster domestic professionals. Robert Johanson, director of Rebecca speaks during the conference call. (Photo courtesy of mydaily) A musical is not just a simple show but a complex compound of art. It requires screenwriting, songwriting, singing, acting, stage design, directing, and more. However, if the current trend of import is sustained, the market and needs for domestic production will decrease, leaving less and less professionals who can produce Korean musicals. That does not mean that all original pieces are not doing well. There are a few hits such as Hero and Seopyun-je. In order to make more original products and even export them to the international market, we, the audiences would have to pay more attention to such plays. Kim So-yun

2017-10 17

[Special][Op-Ed] There is No Sacred Ground for National Tax Service

The Korean government has been trying to legislate the taxation of religious workers since 1968. However, due to various reasons, the legislation was dismissed several times. Now, after 50 years, the taxation for religious practitioners is waiting to be enforced starting next year. This specific article introduces the history of the legislation and current controversies, along with the expected results. Kim Dong-yun, the Finance Minister and the Minister of Strategy and Finance is visiting Jogyesa and meeting Reverend Jaseung to talk about a tax levy on religions workers. (Photo courtesy of Yonhap News) How has it been so far Taxing religious practitioners is not as surprising as some might think. Major countries such as the United States, Germany, Canada, and Japan have all been collecting tax money from religious workers. Even in Korea, some religions or a specific subgroup of a religion have been encouraging a voluntary tax payment. For example, monks in the Chogye Order (a branch of Buddhism) are paying income tax as a form of withholding tax, and priests and nuns in the Catholic church have been paying taxes since 1983. Not all protestant churches are against the taxation, too. Workers in the Full Gospel Incheon Church started paying taxes as early as 1983, and some others joined the wave. As mentioned above, many of the religious workers have been partially or fully bearing the tax duty despite the fact that there was no law enforcement. Therefore, the expected amount of increased tax is only 8 billion won, which is 0.01% of Korea’s 70 trillion won annual tax income. There have also been voices stating that because many of the religious practitioners do not make the minimal income, there is a high possibility of spending more than earning on subsidizing them. If a family does not own more than 140 million won and the annual salary is below 25 million in the case of a double income family, and 21 million for single income, the government provides EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) to the family up to 2.5 million won per year. If many of the religious workers’ incomes do not reach the minimum income as some have speculated, there is a plausibility of more tax money being spent. Kim is having a conversation with the president of the Confucian body Sungkyunkwan, Kim Young-geun regarding the legislation. (Photo courtesy of Asian Economy Daily) Opposite opinions Most of the opposing voices come from the conservative Protestant church unions, namely The Christian Council of Korea. Several religious associations are part of this council, and the council used to be the biggest protestant consultative body until PCK (The Presbyterian Church of Korea) left the council. The Council is currently standing against the legislation for two main reasons. First, they view the work of religious practitioners, not as labor, but as more of a spiritual volunteer service. Therefore, the ‘income’ they make is more of a gratitude payment that should not be applied with secular rules. Moreover, some believe that through the annual report of the priests’ salary, the government will be able to legitimize a tax audit against religious groups, which is an invasion of religious liberty. Although these assertions are winning a minority of support, these opinions have their own flaws that can be tackled with. Kim is having a conversation with priest Eum Ki-ho, head of the Christian Council of Korea. Photo courtesy of News1 Then why should we levy the burden? Some might ask, then why is the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, or the politicians trying to impose a tax on the religious workers? And the answer to that question is simply the principle of fair taxation. In the Korean Constitution, article 38, it says, “All citizens shall have the duty to pay taxes under the conditions as prescribed by the Act.” A principle should have no exceptions to become a social consensus. Especially when the constitution explicitly mentions that, “All citizens shall have the duty to pay taxes,” and religious workers should have no exception. Kim So-yun

2017-09 04

[Special][Op-Ed] Right to Have Safe Periods

"Hey, do you have it?" "What?" "The thing, you know." "Oh, that thing. I have some." This conversation is likely to happen not only between illegal drug dealers but also ordinary women referring to feminine hygiene products. Mentioning about women's cycle or products related to it has been considered as not careful or virtuous. However recently, many women along with men are voicing out for the right to have ‘safe menstruation' after the fact that one of the best-selling sanitary pad contains toxins was revealed in March. Volatile Organic Compounds found in sanitary pads In the safety test conducted by Korean Women's Environmental Networks and Professor Kim Man-koo of Kangwon National University, 10 types sanitary napkins and panty liners were found to have more than 200 Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), including benzene, styrene, and Trichloroethylene. VOCs are organic compounds that can easily become vapors or gases. Not all VOCs are harmful, but some are known to cause cancer or sensory irritation. One of the toxins found in the pads, Styrene, is classified as a carcinogen by World Health Organization and a widely known reproductive toxicant, which can affect the menstrual cycle and volume. A protestor is requesting a full investigation on sanitary pads. (Photo courtesy of Money Today) Kim later unveiled that three items among the 10 are Kleannara's Lilian pads and panty liners. This made the public outrageous, requesting a full refund of the products. Kleannara initially denied the credibility of the test and announced that Lilian pads are authorized by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, therefore safe to use. Nevertheless, after being included in the list of investigation of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Kleannara decided to refund the problematic items on the 23rd. As the complaints grew steadily, the company also announced to fully stop the production and sales of Lilian products in the following day. Should manufacturers disclose full ingredients of feminine products? One of the main controversies around the current situation is whether consumers have a right to know the full detail of what makes menstrual products. Existing law does not require the manufacturers to fully disclose the components because the products are classified as sanitary aid. A revised pharmaceutical affairs act was passed last December to reveal all ingredients of sanitary aids in its package or bottle. However, sanitary pad, tampon, mask, and bandage were excluded from the revision because the products are not directly absorbed into the human body. Lilian pads and the Kleannara's announced that the pads are safe. (Photo courtesy of Kleannara) Many feel that the current legal system did not reflect the reality so well, as the outer vulva of female genital is vulnerable to contaminants and moist, being able to absorb some substances if regularly affected. Another revision that mandates feminine hygiene products is proposed in July, waiting to be passed in the National Assembly. I feel like this amendment being passed is not going to be the end of the story. Even if the sanitary products come with the full ingredient, it would be hard for the consumers to tell which product contains toxin or not. Also, the toxin standards of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has been left not updated for the past two decades. The chemicals in the center of the issue are not listed as toxic chemicals and have no standard whatsoever. This means that Lilian pads and other products in veil could still pass the safety test if the list is not going to be updated soon. Panty liners are also in the middle of controversies as some liners are not even classified as menstrual products. They are industrial products, and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is liable for its credentials. Panty liners, in this case, are not required to pass any specific test to be sold in the market. Some even say ‘do not use this product to absorb menstrual blood', which makes less sense. Members of various feminist organizations are having a press conference. On the right, the description on a panty liner says not to use the product to absorb menstrual blood. (Photo courtesy of Kyunghyang Shinmun official Twitter account) Conclusion Through the tragedy of toxic humidifier, the recent egg issues, and the present-day toxic feminine products, the life of Koreans are constantly in threat through the use of daily products. Although almost half of the nation's safety was and is being threatened, the size of the issue seems to be smaller than usual. Is the social atmosphere hushing on ‘magic' to blame? Or is it just we who are used to hearing such news about toxic daily items? I guess we have to wait and see. Kim So-yun

2017-07 31

[Special]Korean Films Drawing Attention from the World

A Korean historical movie on the May 18 Democratic Uprising ‘A Taxi Driver (2017)’ has been selected as a closing movie at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, Quebec. It was the very first Korean movie to close the festival. As more and more movies from Korea are invited to numerous international film festivals such as Fantasia, Cannes and Berlin International, attention from the world to Korean films are also growing year by year. Some movie journalists call 2017 as one of the most significant years in the Korean film history. The poster for the movie 'Okja (2017)'. Released in June 28th, it is available on Netflix and small theaters. Standing ovation in Cannes ‘Okja’ is a name of Director Bong Joon-ho’s most recent film but also a name of a super pig in the movie, which refers to a genetically modified species invented to feed millions with the least environmental impact. Another main character Mija is a farmer girl who is Okja’s best friend and family. She fights for Okja against people who try to take it. The movie tries to deliver the message of veganism and the cruelty within a meat diet. Bong revealed that he also turned vegan through numerous interviews. ‘Okja’ was spotlighted for various reasons. To begin with, it was produced by the world-wide video streaming service Netflix, with famous casts such as Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, and Lily Colins. It’s unprecedented way of distribution also brought attention to the film itself. Netflix’s decision to release it online only in most markets induced heated debates across the world. This is why Korean audiences cannot watch 'Okja' in major multiplexes in Korea such as CGV, Megabox and Lotte Cinema. Despite all the stories behind, the film was officially selected in Cannes and also got an unexpected standing ovation that lasted for four minutes in its premiere. Berlin best actress winning film also in Cannes From the left, actress Kim Min-hee and director Hong Sang-soo. Kim is holding her Silver Bear trophy from Berlin International Film Festival. Actress Kim Min-hee also received attention from world-wide by winning the best actress award at Berlin International Film Festival, for 'On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)'. Directed by Hong Sang-soo, two other movies of theirs also made it to the Cannes this year. 'The Day After (2017)' in competition, and 'Claire’s Camera (2017)' in special screening segment. This is the filmmaker’s fourth time competing in Cannes. The Silver Bear winner actress Kim Min-hee is on both of the movies, too. Unlike the speculation of many Korean press expecting one, the films did not win any awards. However, it definitely was a step forward to shed the light on Korean films and film workers behind the scene. Other than the movies made by renowned directors, movies such as 'Villainess (2017)' by Jung Byung-Gil and 'The Merciless (2017)' by Byun Sung-hyun also received invitations from the Cannes, both in the midnight screening area. This made two out of three cinemas in the area to be Korean. This opens many doors for Korean film industry to explore various themes with the support of international funds, even for people who are relatively new to the industry. For foreigners in Korea Demand for English, Chinese and Japanese subtitled Korean films has been increasing due to such international interests. Thanks to Seoul city and CJ’s ‘English Subtitles on Korean Movies Business’ in 2010, many foreigners can still enjoy some films without having to find illegal routes. Also, there are about a dozen of Korean movies including the famous “Okja” on Netflix, of course with subtitles for foreigners. Kim So-yun