Organized Panel Session
South Korea’s #MeToo movement has proven to be one of the most vibrant and consequential social movements of its kind in the world. In Korea, feminist #MeToo activism has given rise to the mobilization of mass demonstrations and collective demands for reform in law and lived practice, yielding recent legal breakthroughs and policy revisions regarding sexual harassment and gender-based violence. Such rapid developments there have been all the more striking given the pervasiveness of long-entrenched patriarchal structures and attitudes. Panelists in this session will explore Korea’s #MeToo movement as a groundbreaking phenomenon in the context of Korean sexual politics while offering transnational perspectives on the gains that such activism has already yielded toward advancing gender equality. Mikyoung Lee, a prominent #MeToo activist based in Seoul, will speak about the movement to assist and support survivors of sexual violence. She serves as director of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, which first opened in 1991 and has helped to transform the environment for survivors in Korea. Political scientists Linda Hasunuma and Ki-young Shin will consider how the impact of the #MeToo movement differs between Korea and Japan, theorizing why and how efforts to prosecute and seek justice for women in such cases have been more fruitful in South Korea. Anthropologist Hyun Mee Kim will address the question of why Korea’s #MeToo movement spread so prodigiously since 2017, stressing how “everyday feminism” is transforming the meaning of democracy through the development of the dynamic tensions between the private and the public.