News / Asia

    Q&A: Seung-Kyung Kim on The Korean Women's Movement and the State

    South Korea has changed dramatically since the rule of controversial military dictator Park Chung Hee. His grip on power from 1962 until his assassination in 1979 perpetuated a suppression of civil rights in the country and was especially harsh with regard to the role of women in society. Now, in Park Geun-hye, a woman is president of South Korea. Ironically, she is the dictator’s daughter.
     
    Seung-Kyung Kim was a college student in the late 1970s and has since witnessed the changes in South Korea, especially with regard to the women’s movement. She is now Professor and Chair of the Women’s Studies Department and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Maryland. Kim’s first book studied the economic development of young women factory workers in South Korea. She described to VOA’s Jim Stevenson her latest work, The Korean Women’s Movement and the State, as a continuation of her examination of resistance in social movements.
     
    STEVENSON:  In just six chapters, you cover some of the seminal events of the women’s movement in South Korea over the past decade. The enactment of the law against prostitution in 2004 was a turning point in this movement.
     
    KIM:  Yes. That law in 2004 which many, and I will say maybe most, Korean feminist scholars and women’s movement organization activists all thought prostitutes would embrace this law wholeheartedly. And they were surprised when prostitutes staged demonstration after demonstration, saying that this law does not and is not going to help them. So, given the fact if the law were to be effective, it would have to have a lot more of police force and other ways of implementing this law if the government was really determined to crack down on this issue. But they were not.
     
    STEVENSON:  We like to say here in the United States that all politics is local. You write about the personal and family aspects of politics from the mid-2000s on, particularly the abolition of the family-head system and then rolling into the family law and childcare policy.
     

    KIM:  Ever since the family law was established in 1948 and onward, women’s organizations wanted to revise the family law. And as you know, household-head system and family law has been a backbone of Korean society and [the] Korean family system. Having this law and abolishing the family-head system was a fundamental change in Korean society. It signaled in a way that there is no going back. The last chapter when I talk about childcare issues; that is what I am talking about “bargaining for change.”  The women’s movement was not able to push the public childcare system. As a result, I have to say the childcare system in Korea at this point is a mess, just like in the U.S.
     
    STEVENSON:  No matter what the social change and the degrees of it, there is always something to look forward to and something to press ahead with, and that is pretty much your conclusion, that the Korean women’s movement is currently at a crossroads with such issues still needing some work and attention.
     
    KIM:  The movement activism will again gather its forces and will deal with the issues that they are facing. I hope this book will be read by ordinary Korean women who want to find out about what happened to those legal changes and who made it happen and who were affected.

    Jim Stevenson

    For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora