Criticism of South Korean MP's colourful dress stirs sexism debate

WION Web Team
Seoul, South Korea Published: Aug 07, 2020, 12:10 PM(IST)

Photograph: Yonhap News Photograph:( Twitter )

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Ryu Ho-jeong, who at 28 is the youngest member of the country’s national assembly, drew condemnation and praise in equal measures after she was photographed in what local media described as a red minidress earlier this week.

The debate on sexism and misogyny, especially in the field of politics, has been reignited with the furore over a dress of a woman MP in South Korea. She was criticised for attending a parliamentary session in a colourful dress.

Ryu Ho-jeong, who at 28 is the youngest member of the country’s national assembly, drew condemnation and praise in equal measures after she was photographed in what local media described as a red minidress earlier this week.

Her choice of clothes was a vivid contrast to the dark suits and ties worn by most male MPs.

Ryu said her choice of clothes was designed to challenge male dominance in the 300-seat assembly, which has a record 57 female MPs after April’s election.

“In every plenary session, most lawmakers, male and middle-aged, show up in a suit and a tie, so I wanted to shatter that tradition,” she told Yonhap news agency. “The authority of the national assembly is not built on those suits.”

Some lawmakers came to Ryu’s defence, with fellow party members joining other female MPs in condemning the attacks as sexist.

In a Facebook post, Ko Min-jung, a member of the ruling party, thanked Ryu for “shattering the excessive rigour and authoritarianism” of the national assembly.

Ryu is part of a larger movement of South Korean women who are carrying forward the “escape the corset” campaign. It is being driven by a backlash against exacting beauty standards that call for women to spend hours applying makeup and performing skincare regimes, as well as achieve a certain look by undergoing cosmetic surgery.

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