South Korean man who assaulted short-haired woman ‘for being feminist’ jailed for 3 years

‘I’m a male chauvinist and I think feminists deserve to be assaulted,’ man tells woman staffer

Namita Singh
Wednesday 10 April 2024 11:05 BST
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A court in South Korea sentenced a man to three years in prison for attacking a convenience store worker for her short hair.

The accused was arrested in November last year from a store in the southeastern city of Jinju, after he assaulted the woman for being a “feminist”.

On Tuesday, the Jinju branch of the  Changwon District Court found him guilty of attacking the woman clerk and another man, who tried to intervene.

“Since you have short hair, you must be a feminist. I’m a male chauvinist, and I think feminists deserve to be assaulted,” he reportedly told her at the time, according to the police. He then proceeded to kick and punch the woman, revealed CCTV footage.

He stopped the assault only when the police arrived at the scene, local media reported.

In South Korea, the word “feminist” is still considered an insult and is often confused with misandry.

The woman, said to be in her 20s, received serious ligament injuries, and suffered hearing impairment, while the male customer, reportedly in his 50s, suffered face and shoulder fractures and subsequently left the job due to trauma. The attacker hit him with a chair.

The court also ordered the convict to pay £1,460 to the convenience store worker and £5,832 to the male victim.

However, women’s rights groups pushed back for providing a lenient sentence to the convict after he was found to be in an unstable mental state at the time of the attack.

“It is regrettable that the court did not see the incident as a hate crime,” said a women’s rights group during a press conference after the ruling.

“If an act of targeting someone out of hate, just because they belong to a specific group, is not considered a hate crime, then what is?

“The cause of this incident is not mental illness or an unstable state of mind, but the defendant’s hatred towards women,” the group added.

Women sporting short hair in South Korea have previously also been targeted. When South Korean Olympic archer An San won three gold medals at Tokyo 2020, men back home were busy criticising her short hair.

At the Games, she told reporters that she would only answer questions related to her performance and not the online hostility that was brewing back home in South Korea.

Because of her short hair, men called her a feminist.

To counter the growing criticism of An online, many South Korean women, including politicians and celebrities, posted messages and their own cropped hair photos to support the athlete.

Moon Jae-in, who was the president at that time, praised the Olympic archer and said of the online backlash: “Sometimes we have to overcome expectations and discrimination.”

Challenging the notion that short hair makes someone less of a woman, thousands rallied online posting pictures of their hair using the hashtag #women_shortcut_campaign on X, formerly known as Twitter.

South Korea continues to uphold deeply entrenched patriarchal norms and ranks poorly for gender equality among advanced nations.

The country has the worst gender pay gap among OECD countries and consistently is ranked at the bottom on the Economist’s Glass Ceiling Index – which assesses the extent to which women experience equal treatment in the workplace.

The current president of South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol, 62, disavowed the label of a feminist when he was running for office. Previously, he has also insinuated that feminism was responsible for the country’s birthrate, which is currently the world’s lowest.

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