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The Peninsula

Increasingly Gendered Framing of the Labor Market

Published December 7, 2021
Author: Korea View

What Happened

  • Newspapers criticized a female police officer who fled the scene of a stabbing.
  • The incident reignited debate over the capability of women to serve in the police force.
  • But the incident also comes amid growing criticism of police competence and growing calls to improve the training of its personnel.

Implications: Discussions of broad social issues are increasingly being scrutinized along gender lines. The recent criticism of the police handling of the stabbing case demonstrates this trend. Many have used public policies aimed at increasing the recruitment of female officers as the explanation for the perceived weakening of police capacity. This is despite the fact that a male officer was also present at the scene of the crime. In response to public dissatisfaction with its performance, the National Police Agency admitted to the need to improve training. Nonetheless, many domestic voices appear poised to continue framing both the incident and broader issues in the labor market through the lens of gender.

Context: A survey conducted by the Korea Women’s Development Institute found that over 50% of Korean men in their 20s and 30s feel hostile towards women. Opposition to feminism is so pervasive among this cohort that it has become a political identity, shifting this traditionally-progressive demographic to the right. The rise of Lee Jun-seok, who has criticized the Moon administration’s efforts to promote equal employment and has compared feminism to terrorism, to the leadership of the People Power Party is emblematic of this troubling trend.

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Janet Hong, Yubin Huh, and Mai Anna Pressley. Picture from the flickr account of damopabe

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