She Used a Male Doll in a Joke. Now She’s Accused of Sexual Harassment.

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Park Na-rae, a comic, grabbed a male doll, positioned its plastic arm between its legs and made a suggestive comment.

By the requirements of Western comedy, the stunt on her YouTube present in March would have hardly appeared offensive. However the skit turned a scandal in her residence nation, South Korea. Legions of aggrieved younger males accused her of sexual harassment. The police are investigating.

The scandal has made headlines for weeks and has threatened to inflict lasting injury on Ms. Park’s profession, two years after she turned the primary feminine comic from South Korea to host a Netflix particular.

Her supporters say the outcry illustrates a double customary in a tradition the place males usually brag about sexual conquests and the place sexual harassment is endemic, however the place girls who dare to say intercourse in public might be penalized.

“For guys, it’s a cool factor to be sexual,” stated Jamie Suk, 26, a digital content material supervisor for a corporation in Seoul. “However for ladies, it’s one thing they’re supposed to maintain hidden.”

Ms. Suk stated that whereas she thought of Ms. Park’s stunt “impolite, even when it was simply to a doll,” the criticism and police response have been blatantly unfair. “If Ms. Park is to bear police investigations, so ought to each particular person accused of a violation of the identical or worse diploma,” she stated.

The controversy surrounding Ms. Park, 35, facilities on the present “Hey Na-rae,” which she began on a YouTube channel this yr. The present was a bit raunchy from the beginning. In an early episode, Ms. Park used her hand to imitate male masturbation and joked a few “pepper within the pants,” slang for penis.

Nevertheless it was her stunt with the doll that prompted enmity from male critics.

Ms. Park’s skit could have touched a nerve as a result of it recommended that Korean girls ought to be free to pursue their very own sexual impulses, stated Mo Hyun-joo, an anthropologist in Seoul who makes a speciality of gender points and digital tradition.

Some Korean girls say they imagine that Ms. Park’s stunt “crossed the road,” Dr. Mo stated. “However on the similar time, girls assume that younger males have additionally crossed the road. Contemplating their misogynistic actions, on-line and offline, girls assume, ‘Have they got the best to accuse her?’”

In social media threads, a lot of her critics famous that considered one of Ms. Park’s co-hosts on one other comedy present, a graphic novelist, Kim Hee-min, who writes beneath the pen identify Kian84, had not too long ago been compelled to take a four-week break after girls complained that considered one of his comedian strips recommended that ladies use intercourse to get jobs. Since he was punished for inappropriate feedback, they argued, Ms. Park ought to be known as to account, as properly.

Lee Wonjae, a professor on the Korea Superior Institute of Science and Expertise who research on-line, stated that almost all of Ms. Park’s critics weren’t trolls from misogynistic, far-right web sites, however strange males from mainstream society.

Professor Lee stated that many younger males in South Korea — which has one of many highest gender pay gaps within the developed world — really feel threatened by sure gender traits and President Moon Jae-in’s makes an attempt to push for gender equality. These males see girls as rising opponents for jobs and gaining extra bargaining energy within the marriage market.

“Why are you going to assist girls extra? Have a look at me: I’m doing my navy service. What are you doing for me?” he stated of how younger males see their lot in life. “That’s the message.” (Males in South Korea age 18 to twenty-eight are required to serve within the navy for about two years.)

Sexism is deeply entrenched in South Korea. There may be an epidemic of males utilizing hidden cameras to spy on girls in public restrooms and altering rooms. Misogynistic posts are a defining characteristic of Reddit-like boards. “It’s on a regular basis life, this type of gender battle, misogyny, backlash and hatred,” Dr. Mo stated.

Within the realm of presidency, a former Seoul mayor, Park Received-soon, was considered one of many male politicians to be accused of sexual harassment. (He died by suicide final yr.) And the Seoul authorities apologized this yr after issuing pointers that suggested pregnant girls to cook dinner, clear and work on their appearances to make sure that their husbands nonetheless discovered them engaging.

Within the leisure trade, some males have confronted criticism or jail phrases for sexual misconduct. Notably, two Ok-pop stars have been sentenced to jail in 2019 for raping girls who have been too drunk to consent to intercourse.

But, different male celebrities and public figures have made sexist remarks with out dealing with the type of scrutiny confronted by Ms. Park. She already had a fame for pushing the boundaries of what feminine South Korean comedians can say or do. She started her 2019 Netflix particular, “Glamour Warning,” by speaking about her “first time doing it with out a man.”

Ms. Park resigned from her YouTube present a number of days after the scandal broke. The Seoul police later stated that they have been investigating the harassment claims to find out whether or not she had damaged any legal guidelines. The police didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

OpenNet, a South Korean nongovernmental group that advocates for web privateness, stated this month that her doll stunt didn’t represent sexual harassment beneath insurance policies set by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Household. The group stated that she had merely tried to specific feminine sexual identification.

Ms. Park’s expertise company, JDB Leisure, stated that she was not obtainable for an interview.

In a handwritten notice to her 1.8 million Instagram followers in March, Ms. Park stated that it was her responsibility as a performer and public determine to “take accountability” for her personal appearing and props. “I’m nothing however sorry to the many individuals who trusted and supported me,” she wrote.

Final month, she visited her grandparents for considered one of her different tv reveals, “I Reside Alone,” and expressed regret for the way her stunt with the doll had prompted hurt to her castmates.

“People are imperfect,” her grandfather, who was not named within the broadcast, stated as Ms. Park burst into tears. “Don’t hearken to hate.”

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