Freedom of Expression

Korean pop girl group, T-Ara wearing mini skirts

Famous Korean girl group, T-ara wearing mini-skirts, a common scene in the K-pop industry (photo from CNN’s article, “No More Miniskirts in Seoul? New Law has South Korea Buzzing”)

While on CNN, I came across this article about overexposure and a new law imposed on South Korean citizens that goes into effect March 22, 2013. Having lived in Seoul for ~7 years now, I was shocked to see this article, and expect that it will have tremendous impact on the population – and what makes me a bit a irked is that this overexposure law is targeting the female portion of South Korea’s population.

For those of you who don’t know much about S. Korea, it is a pretty conservative country. However in recent years, global influence on Korea’s fashion industry has created an outlet for younger Koreans to express themselves via their outfits. This especially applies to the female portion of the population. It wasn’t even 50 years ago when it was thought to be immoral and immodest for a woman to wear skirts that showed the ankles. Entertainment careers such as being a singer or actress weren’t seen as very ideal or prestigious. Nowadays, the pop culture is literally booming, with millions of teens dreaming about being part of K-pop groups, or being part of Seoul Fashion Week. It is because of this that I found this new law so perplexing! With so many of Korea’s youth embracing this social change, why would the Korean government want to do anything to create dispute?

As i spoke to fellow Korean-Americans (my age, as well as older), we spoke about the President, Park Geun Hye, and how she might have influenced such a change in policy. For those of you who don’t know, President Park became the first woman president for South Korea, and was inaugurated this past February. She represents the conservative party. Many know Park Geun Hye as her father’s daughter. Park’s father, Park Chung Hee was president for a significant amount of time during the 60s and 70s, imposing many strict laws pertaining to social issues, such as female conservatism and family dynamics. Many older voters voted for Park Geun Hye in hopes of gaining back some of the more traditional ideals of Korea, as well as returning back to the time South Korea became known as one of the “Tigers of Asia” with its impossibly fast economic progress into the 21st century.

The law comes as a surprise for many and there are definitely those that are going to fight against it. People say that it is imposing on the basic rights of expression, and that it is forcing Korea to return back to an impossibly conservative era. Personally, I do hope that this law is repealed not only because of the imposition it puts on women and their freedom of expression, but also because I think Korea needs to become a more equal society, when it comes to gender. There have been strides of progress, especially when it comes to the career options a woman has, as well as education – This law would be somewhat of a step back in Korea’s journey to becoming a more gender-equal society.

Until Next Time!

14 thoughts on “Freedom of Expression

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