Actor Yoo Ah-in attempted to wrap up his lengthy online battles with fans concerning one of the most sensitive issues in Korea: gender bashing.
On Sunday, he posted a lengthy letter on his Instagram page, through which he said that he has always been a feminist. It appeared to be his way of denying accusations of misogyny by some netizens.
“I am a feminist. Although I do not know which authorities may bestow such license on me, I wish to discuss feminism with conviction, love and the spirit of my times. It will be a very long and difficult posting to ‘neo-humans’ suffering from dyslexia, and a chance to peak into another person’s world for those who view others through writing,” he said.
Yoo Ah-in (Yonhap)
The incident started on Friday, when a person of unspecified gender and identity said that he or she thought it would be difficult to be friends with Yoo.
“It feels like he will open a fridge, find a zucchini and stare at it for a while, and ask me ‘What does it mean to be alone?’ and wink,” the person wrote.
Yoo replied, “Have you ever been beat up with a zucchini (wink).”
The person wrote, “It meant nothing and he is going to beat me. ... Typical of Han-nam.”
“Han-nam,” which is short for “Hanguk Namja (Korean men),” is commonly used as a derogatory term for Korean men. It derived from the term “Han-nam-chung,” which likens Korean men to bugs.
Yoo answered back by saying that his reply meant nothing, and told the person “to stop pretending to be ‘Joan of Arc,’” thus opening a series of online quarrels with multiple netizens.
“A joke directed at a person of unidentified sex was caught on the radars of ‘the minority reporters’ and made me a female-hating, han-nam, potential criminal. I should never have come here. What a beautiful and free world that leads from zucchini to a real-life fight,” Yoo wrote.
Online comments by Yoo, one of the most active Korean celebrities on social media, have often come across as thought-provoking to some and sarcastic and snarky to others.
But this time, he has touched a nerve, as speaking on the issue of gender bashing is itself like opening a can of worms in a country that confronts a series of hate crimes based on sex.
What started with blatant misogyny on a controversial website gave birth to a new phenomenon of women hating on men, using derogatory terms and even encouraging others to act upon such hatred.
Misogyny and general antisocial attitudes at websites like Ilbe had grown to an extreme degree -- to the extent of openly talking about fantasies of sexual crimes against minors -- and it led to men-hating websites that “mirrored” their outrageous actions extreme ways. Last week, one member of a men-hating website claimed to have molested a young boy.
Yoo’s message Sunday appeared to indicate that he did not want to be involved in such talk anymore -- at least for now.
“I am who I am, just like you are who you are. No matter what you say, I am this kind of person. I don’t want to fight to beat you. I want to be connected to you, and ask you how you are,” he wrote.