The Observers

South Korea: Activists harassed and targeted by 'anti-feminist' groups

A man dressed up as the Batman villain the Joker, part of the anti-feminist "New Men’s Solidarity" movement, chased a group of South Korean female activists and fired at them with a water pistol.
A man dressed up as the Batman villain the Joker, part of the anti-feminist "New Men’s Solidarity" movement, chased a group of South Korean female activists and fired at them with a water pistol. © Observers

Young men who are part of New Man Power and other "masculinist" groups see South Korea's growing feminist movement as a threat. Bae Ingyu, also known as "Wangia", is one of these men, who dresses up like the Joker from the Batman films and harasses feminist activists in the streets. Videos of the Joker illustrate the growing backlash that feminists and women's activists face both on and offline.

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Although there has been progression in women’s rights in the traditionally conservative country over the past few years, a number of groups dedicated to defending men’s rights have also popped up. Feminism, often associated with misandry in South Korea, is the arch-nemesis of the country’s "masculinist" groups. The latter "fight" feminism with online taunting, anonymous threats, anti-feminist demonstrations and sometimes bullying or sexual harassment.

The feminist organisation Haeil (which means tsunami in Korean) was founded in June 2021 to fight against the growing trend of anti-feminism. The organisation immediately became a prime target of masculinist groups. We spoke to Kim Ju-hee, the founder of Haeil, who recounted the experience of being followed harassed by the Joker this summer. 

He chased us, shouting 'Is there a fly somewhere?' and spraying us with his water pistol. Our members were afraid when they saw his water pistol. There have been cases of what's known as 'semen terrorism' in Korean society, when men assault women with solutions that contain semen, like on a bus, for example. So we didn't know what was inside his water pistol. We tried to get away from him, but he kept following us and shouting. We were terrified.