Me too Movement in Asia

The Me Too Movement in Korea has been a huge success. Photo Credit:

Grace Kim, Photojournalist

#MeToo. A major part of 2017 and 2018 in the United States was a rise of the Me Too movement. Countless victims, particularly young women, opened up about their stories on sexual harassment and abuse. A notorious triumph for the Me Too movement was the Larry Nassar case. For years, olympic athletes suffered several counts of misconduct by a former osteopathic physician of Michigan State University / USA Olympic Gymnastic team doctor; Larry Nassar. January of 2018, Larry Nassar was finally sentenced to 60 years in prison. Even though the Me Too movement was a huge success in the United States, women within countries of strict morals and conservative cultures, such as Korea and Japan, are still struggling to speak out.


Behind the glittering walls of South Korea’s technological advancement and economic boom, South Korea is still a very conservative country. However, fortunately, due to an increase of foreign influence and access to media, Korea is quickly breaking down its traditional walls. Although the me too movement was slow to start in South Korea, the me too movement, currently, has become quite influential. It all started on January of 2018, public prosecutor, Seo Ji Hyun, confronted a prominent former South Korean ministry of justice for groping her during a funeral. The public were shocked to discover that the South Korean ministry of Justice had acted in such a fashion. Not only was there a public uproar against the South Korean ministry of justice, but women began to realize that if this female individual can do it then surely they can too. Since then handfuls of shocking accusations against famous politicians and celebrities captured public attention. Famous filmmakers Kim Ki Duk and Lee Youn Taek were found guilty of raping young women. A prominent literary figure who was once considered as a potential Nobel Prize recipient was accused of sexual harassment. Following this scandal, poet Ko Eun’s accomplished works were all taken down and banned from the media.


Unlike South Korea, the me too movement has had a very different impact on Japan. Although one of the top finance ministry bureaucrat did resign after being accused for sexually harassing a female reporter, the me too movement hasn’t had any serious impact. In fact, it seems that Japan is actually pushing against this rather controversial movement. After the top finance ministry bureaucrat resigned, the media concluded the scandal by blaming it as a “women’s problem.” However, this case wasn’t far from over. To the public’s surprise, the female reporter was harshly criticized and mocked for making such allegations.One politician even lashed out at the reporter for recording the harassment without  consent. It seems that Japan just isn’t ready to change.


As can be seen, the me too movement has had two very different effects among countries that still embrace conservative culture. Paige Richey (11) is “glad that so many females are standing up against injustice. [she] believe[s] that change, especially in the feminist community, is inevitable, but for some countries it may take longer than others.”