|The South Korean Election’s Gender Conflict and the Future of Women Voters
In January, South Korean presidential candidate Yoon Seok-yul pledged in a Facebook post to abolish South Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF). The ministry, which in Korean is named the Ministry of Women and Family (Yeoseonggajokbu), largely provides family-based services, education, and social welfare for children. (The MOGEF budget comprises 0.2 percent of the total national budget, and less than 3 percent of its budget targets women’s economic equality promotion.)To get more news about 色www视频永久免费, you can visit our official website.
Yoon, who represents the opposition People Power Party (PPP), the country’s major conservative party, claimed that the Ministry failed to perform its gender equality function properly and has “treated men as potential criminals.” Yoon tapped into a broader feeling among men and provided validation to anti-feminist groups. Many young men feel disadvantaged by government efforts for gender equality, which they claim provide preferential treatment to women. After his pledge to dissolve the ministry, Candidate Yoon received a boost in his polling figures—jumping over 6 percent from the week prior to take a slight lead over Lee Jae-myung, the candidate from the ruling progressive Democratic Party (DP).
Candidate Lee, meanwhile, did not defend the institution. Instead, he promoted a plan to reorganize MOGEF as the “Ministry of Equality and Family” (Pyeongdeunggajokbu). In November 2021, he told the Korean National Council of Women, “Just as you should not be discriminated against because you are a woman, it’s also not right to be discriminated against because you are a man.” Lee did stress he would introduce measures to close the gender wage gap (currently the widest among OECD countries), combat discrimination in hiring, and foster broader women’s political participation.
This election has devolved to mudslinging and issue-baiting to capture younger voters—especially young male voters—who have risen as the election’s swing bloc over the past year. Koreans have historically largely voted along ideological and regional lines. For the first time, younger voters have begun to split according to gender. Young Korean men by far prefer the conservative PPP, while young women voters prefer the DP (see figure 1).
Historically, neither progressive nor conservative parties in South Korea claim women voters as their base or place gender-based issues on their platform. This is quite surprising given Korean women’s groups’ historical successes in advancing women’s rights, such as abolishing the patrilineal family registration system that governed citizenship and pushing through anti-discrimination and anti-domestic violence legislation in the 1990s and early 2000s.
But the reason for these past successes stems from their alliances with all political parties to pass individual policy reforms, rather than promoting an ideology of women’s rights per se. As a result, lawmakers from political parties on the left and right have all introduced women’s legislation on an ad hoc basis to cater to specific policy-oriented constituents, rather than picking up a broader women’s issue platform.
During this election’s primaries, a slew of sexual harassment scandals within the ruling DP has marred the Korean progressive establishment. In 2020, the Democratic mayors of Seoul and Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, resigned following sexual harassment allegations. The DP party leader apologized to the public but declined to investigate the matter. Progressive alternatives, such as the Justice Party, have also struggled with sexual harassment. In January 2021, its party leader was dismissed following allegations of sexual harassment.