9.14.2014

Gender, Sex and Politics in Korea: What the Saenuri Party really meant by "Prepared Woman President"

The Park Administration response to the Sewol sinking was absolutely inadequate. Protests and hunger strikes to demand accountability and preventative measures continue to grow five months after over 300 people, mostly students on a field trip, lost their lives.
A family assembles to demand a "safe world for my son."
Apparently some politicians demanding a transparent report on the Presidents' response have been gossiping and speculating on her sex life. Opposition lawmaker Sul Hoon referenced (and dismissed) rumors that President Park was engaging in a "tryst" during a 7 hour period during the tragic Sewol sinking.
President Park participates in mourning the deceased. 
“What did [President Park] do for those seven hours at the Blue House?” Sul asked. “I don’t think it’s true what people are saying about her having a tryst. I think that’s probably not it.”

The resulting political controversy has centered on demands that Sul resign and whether his words were intended to malign the President or to dismiss the rumors. Lost in this discussion is the sexism that the majority party is also leveling at President Park.

While Sul's accounting of the rumors demonstrate a sexist tendency to focus on the unmarried female President's leadership, they also highlight a sense of betrayal and mistrust. The gossip centers on what might have kept the President preoccupied specifically for the 7 hour period during the Sewol sinking.

On the other hand, Saenuri party spokesperson Park Dae-chul's statement blurs President Park's public office and private sex life, and are not limited to a discussion of the Sewol sinking, but extend to a general comment about women's sexuality:

“It’s troubling to think what might happen if there are rumors about ‘the President of the Republic of Korea having a tryst’ going around,” Park added. “The Saenuri Party intends to examine a possible complaint against Sul Hoon to the National Assembly Ethics Committee.”

What might happen?

By emphasizing the "Republic of Korea" in his statement, perhaps spokesman Park calls upon tried and tested fear of Korean womens' bodies and sexuality and the national image. He asks, how might Korea look to other nations?

Is the Saenuri Party particularly sensitive to North Korea state media describing President Park as a "crafty prostitute" in thrall to her "pimp" Barack Obama?" Or is Saenuri still unclear what they meant by the election campaign slogan "Prepared Woman President?" The party cultivates an image of a woman's body and sexuality sacrificed as the "mother of the Korean state" and in control in contrast to the womens' bodies the state aggressively polices and regulates.  

Campaign Slogan: Prepared Woman President






Sources:
Hankyoreh, Opposition lawmaker causes firestorm by referring to president’s “tryst”
Posted on : Sep.13,2014 14:15 KST  http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/655017.html