×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

#MeToo Movement Brings Fast Change to South Korea’s Film Business

The industry is starting to deal with a culture of widespread sexual harassment

The #MeToo campaign has rocked South Korea, especially its film industry, and the impact is lasting.

Kim Ki-duk, pictured above, one of the country’s most renowned filmmakers, and actor Cho Jae-hyun have been accused by a number of victims of sexual misconduct, including rape.

Also accused of sexually harassing his students at a university where he taught drama, veteran TV actor Jo Min-ki killed himself after multiple allegations surfaced.

Although the Korean entertainment industry has been no stranger to sex crimes and sexploitation, institutional remedies have been impractical, if not absent. However, as dozens of cases have come to light and the campaign has gained momentum across the country, the film industry, women’s organizations and the government have started coming up with corrective measures.

In March, the Korean national assembly’s Education, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee, the Korean Film Council and Women in Film Korea co-launched Deun-Deun: Center for Gender Equality in Korean Film, which will counsel and support victims, conduct gender researches in the industry and suggest policies.

At the center’s opening event, KOFIC chairman Oh Seok-geun said, “Those who are convicted of sexual violence will be excluded from KOFIC’s support programs.”

In the same month, Jin Sun-mee, a human-rights lawyer-turned-lawmaker in the ruling party, proposed a victim-protection law as well as an anti-sexual violence law specifically for the film industry: the former is designed to protect the victims and their legal representatives from the assailants’ complaints, while the latter is to prevent human rights violation such as sexual violence and unfair labor practices often exerted on the film industry laborers.

A recent survey conducted by Deun-Deun indicated that 46.1% of film industry workers have suffered sexual violence and harassment. The data showed that 61.5% of the victims were women, indicating female staff are experiencing the brunt of unwanted physical contact from male colleagues.

The movement seems to be forming a social consensus about gender equality in the country more widely than ever. A petition calling on government to reopen the case of the late actress Jang Ja-yeon received some 200,000 signatures clearly proves the trend.

In 2009, Jang committed suicide with a letter chronicling how her agent forced her to have sex with sponsors who help talent get roles in popular TV and film projects. When the case was initially investigated, the prosecution indicted only the CEO of Jang’s agency and her manager on violence and defamation charges. Others on the list ended up not being charged. In April, the Justice Ministry called on prosecutors to reexamine the case nine years after her death.

More Film

  • David Picker dead

    David Picker, Studio Chief Who Acquired James Bond Novels for UA, Dies at 87

    David Picker, who headed United Artists, Paramount and Columbia’s motion picture divisions and was known for forging relationships with groundbreaking filmmakers and material, died Saturday in New York. He was 87 and had been suffering from colon cancer. MGM tweeted, “We are saddened to hear that a member of the United Artists family has passed [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content