Kim Ji-young, Born 1982 Reignites South Korean Gender Divide

A number of women in Seoul have reported shedding tears while watching the recent release of a film titled, ‘Kim Ji-young, Born 1982’. Based on the feminist novel by the same name which was published in 2016, the release of film shed a lot of light on the sexism in South Korea, along with the anti-harassment #MeToo movement, and feminism, of course. In spite of anti-feminist sentiments, the film has topped the South Korean Box Office since the opening week and has sold 9.7 billion won ($8.3 million) in its first week alone.

Women rated the film 9.5 out of 10; men rated it 2.5 stars

The film follows the journey of a married woman in her 30s who feels pressured to give up her dreams and career in order to raise her young child and clearly this really hit home with South Korean women. While some are calling this movie overtly feminist, others are saying that this simply is revealing the reality of what many women of the country are going through. However, more importantly, the film is highlighting the vast gender divide and the realities of what modern women still struggle with even in modern times. 23-year-old moviegoer, Seo Mi-Jeong, “I couldn’t empathize with the premise that a woman born in 1982 was discriminated against when she was growing up. Many of the situations seem unrealistic or very, very rare.” What made the gender divide even more apparent was that women rated the film 9.5 out of 10 stars on Naver, a top search portal in the country, while men rated the film a mere 2.5 stars. 

South Korea is lagging behind with regards to social issues

Written by Cho Nam-Joo, a television scriptwriter writes the story from the characters from birth to motherhood from the perspective of her male psychiatrist. Many South Koreans are severely criticizing the film because ‘it presents distorted views, is highly subjective, and makes negative, sexist generalizations against men.’ However, the truth is that while Koreans are both economically and technologically advanced when it comes to social issues, the country is lagging behind its developed counterparts. Lead actress Jung Yu-mi received a string of negativity on social media, even to the extent of hateful comments. Lee Na-young, a sociology professor at Chung-Ang University in Seoul said in an interview, “The book is not about someone special or a particularly miserable woman, but it’s about any woman. It follows Kim Ji-young’s life cycle and along the way, one detects discrimination, exclusion, and violence. And it hurts. They’re not women’s rights activists but simply women who sympathize with the victim.”

Image credit: Variety

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