Last summer, South Koreans left messages of their sexual harassment and assaults on Post-it notes at an exit of Gangnam subway station.
Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images
Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images
As the #MeToo movement spread across the Internet, with women coming forward sharing tales of sexual assault and harassment, South Korean women were quick to identify.
Overall, violent crime numbers are considered low in South Korea, but in recent years, government statistics have shown a steady uptick in reported cases of sexual violence. And when it comes to gender equality, South Korea ranks poorly — near the bottom of all countries, in fact.
As people look for solutions, understanding how the government treats these issues is a clear way to start.
The public education system might be one obvious place to create greater understanding to prevent sexual assault and harassment. But critics say South Korea’s schools are instead disseminating dangerous myths, including the notion of blaming victims.
In March 2015, Korea’s Education Ministry released updated sex education curriculum guidelines for public schools. According to the Korea Herald, which saw the full teaching manuals in 2015, they include women not paying for their meals on dates as a possible reason for date rape.
“From the perspective of a man who spends a lot of money on dates, it is natural that he would want a commensurate compensation from the woman. In such conditions, unwanted date rape can occur,” the curriculum for high school students reads, according to a screenshot tweeted by a Korean journalist under the words, “The Ministry of Education’s ‘teacher education materials’. If you think the Ministry is crazy, please press RT.”
Tips to respond to sexual harassment, also for the high school-level curriculum, include “step on his foot as if by mistake.”
The manual for teachers of elementary-age students includes the statement that “male sexual desire can arise quickly on impulse, regardless of time and place.”
In an Aug. 27, 2015, editorial, the Korea Herald called for the guidelines to be withdrawn. “By giving out wrong information and inappropriate advice, the new sex education guidelines will do students a disservice,” it said. “In fact, it is the very sexual stereotypes and prejudices shown in the manual that are responsible for the prevalence of sexual violence in our society.”
The Korean Sexual Violence Counseling Center argued, too, that the guidelines reinforced gender stereotypes and discrimination and seemed to justify sexual violence.
Complaints about the curriculum guidelines were filed with the Education Ministry, which then pulled down the full curriculum from the Internet.
Yet two years later, despite all the complaints and criticism, the very same guidelines are still in place, NPR has learned.
“There were a lot of complaints about what we had mentioned,” a spokesperson for the Education Ministry tells NPR. “For the past two years, we looked through the guidelines to see if there were any improvements to be made, but the result that we reached last September is that there are no particular official changes to be made. We’ve recommended these guidelines to be followed this school year as well.”
The ministry recently shared its sex education guidelines with NPR, in response to a public information request. But these did not include the full 300-page teachers manual, which includes the controversial pointers.
When NPR requested the controversial material, the ministry responded, “We believe it’s inappropriate to process your request, sorry.”
“What we did learn from the criticism that we received in response to the teacher’s reference material is that we should not include things that could be distorted and taken out of context,” Min Hye-young, an officer at the Education Ministry’s Division of Student Health Policy, told NPR.
“We didn’t think it would be seen as us promoting sexism,” she continued. “We should have looked through the material more thoroughly and made sure that nothing is offensive to the people that read it. We should have checked little details like that.”
But, she said, “Here’s the thing: It’s not false information that people think that way.”
About women risking rape by not paying for a date?
“Well, don’t put it in such extreme words,” Min said. “I mean, the way Koreans think, people do have a tendency to think like that. But we should have thought more before including it in an Education Ministry guideline, and that bit was just taken out of context to criticize the guidelines.”
Min said the ministry’s good intentions have been misunderstood.
“We’d like to emphasize that victims of sexual violence could be girl or boy, men or women, or young to old people,” she said. “We should have been stricter about our guidelines in covering sexual violence and prevention of it. We just wanted to help prevent offenders and victims. We should have been more thorough, is what I’d like to say.”
But for now, the fact remains that even under a new Korean administration that is dubbed as progressive, the notion that women can be held accountable for sexual assault continues to be taught in public schools across the country.
Jihye Lee contributed to this post.
Protesters gather outside as Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Judge Roy Moore appears at a mid-Alabama Republican Club’s Veterans Day event on Nov. 11 in Vestavia Hills, Ala.
Wes Frazer/Getty Images
Wes Frazer/Getty Images
Roy Moore, the embattled GOP candidate for an Alabama Senate seat, continued Saturday morning to deny allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers, including an episode with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.
“They are completely false and untrue about something that happened nearly 40 years ago,” Moore said of the accusations as he spoke to reporters at a Veterans Day event in Alabama. He called the claims “very hurtful to me personally.”
Roy Moore speaks on allegations that he dated a 14 year old girl when in his 30s, calling them “completely false and untrue” at a Veterans Day event. pic.twitter.com/i27VYtItcW
— Amber Jamieson (@ambiej) November 11, 2017
At first on Friday, in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, he seemed to leave open the possibility that he had dated other teens while he was in the 30s, only to later in the day say he could not recall ever doing such a thing.
Yet as Moore has fought back against his accusers, so too has a movement of Twitter users repudiated his denials. They have begun posting pictures of themselves at 14 years of age, in order to ask the rhetorical question: Should this child be romantically involved with a 32-year-old man?
Meet the #MeAt14 hashtag.
— Rebecca Caplan (@RabbiReba) November 11, 2017
The more humorous variations on the hashtag aim to remind viewers just how immature and incompetent the average 14-year-old is, surely unable to make decisions surrounding sexual contact with a man in his 30s.
— Pamela-Lee Martel (@pzurawek) November 11, 2017
Other users, in more poignant fashion, showcase the innocence of their 14-year-old selves.
— Orli Matlow, Your New Comedy Hero (@HireMeImFunny) November 11, 2017
— Maisie Fleur (@maisie_mclean) November 11, 2017
Others told of their own sexual harassment at age 14, arguing that the accusations of older man sexualizing young teenagers were not limited to just those leveled against Moore.
@ArielDumas Here’s #MeAt14 playing at the park with friends. This was the same summer my mom’s boss saw me sucking on a lime wedge and said, “any girl that can suck like that is going to be very popular in high school.” pic.twitter.com/tsKL3JK5YE
— Ashley Goebel (@AshleyGoebel6) November 11, 2017
On Saturday, renowned long distance swimmer Diana Nyad, who wrote earlier this week in the New York Timesabout her response to being assaulted as a 14-year-old by her coach, told NPR’s Michel Martin, host of All Things Considered, that she felt encouraged by the national dialogue on sexual misconduct.
“I am so heartened by these past few weeks of the education of the public,” she said.
Nyad said she sees this moment as part of a huge and rapid societal shift and a sudden effort to “archive” a litany of sexual misconduct previously kept silent.
“I want to be one of the leaders of the voices who collect the archiving,” she said. “And next I want to be one of the leaders as to what the heck we’re going to do about this to change this in our culture.”
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Nov. 11 in Washington, D.C.
With the commander-in-chief busy touring the Asian continent, Vice President Mike Pence stepped in Saturday to commemorate Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery with a speech that ended on a remarkably personal note.
Pence — dressed in a black suit, white shirt and a striped red tie — began his remarks just before noon to a crowd of veterans and their supporters on an unseasonably cold November morning by expressing President Trump’s greetings.
“Our president is halfway around the world, but I know his heart is here,” Pence told the crowd.
The vice president used the speech to defend the Trump administration as a stalwart champion of service members and their families, at one point listing off efforts made to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Let me be clear: veterans’ benefits are not entitlements. They are earned,” he said in a line that garnered applause.
Defense Secretary James Mattis and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke were also in attendance.
Pence said the Trump administration had expanded the Veterans Choice Program and “already fired or suspended over 1,500 VA employees for negligent behavior.”
He also told his audience the White House is working to funnel more resources to the armed forces, declaring “before this year is out, we’ll enact the largest investment in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan.”
Pence — known for his indefatigably composed demeanor — concluded his address on a personal note, his voice at times wavering slightly.
The vice president — who himself never served in the armed forces but who is both the son and father of servicemen — recounted a conversation with someone who told him that his father’s participation in the Korean War had irrevocably changed him.
“I don’t think your dad ever got over the guilt of coming home,” Pence recalled the man saying.
“Know this,” Pence said, addressing veterans who were listening. “We’re with you. You do not carry that burden alone.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 11, 2017
Earlier in the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, with the assistance of a soldier, Pence somberly laid a decorated wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
But Pence’s commemoration of Veterans Day began even earlier on Saturday.
Vice President Mike Pence, with his wife Karen Pence, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke clean a portion of the wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day, Saturday, Nov. 11.
As the sun rose over the National Mall, the vice president and his wife, second lady Karen Pence soaked rags in buckets of soapy water and helped hand-wash the dark, reflective surface of the Vietnam Memorial.
He said the cleaning was a “moving start to Veterans Day.”
In a “moving start to Veterans Day,” Vice President Pence helped volunteers wash the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was opened 35 years ago this year https://t.co/Vh6zdzId1Tpic.twitter.com/4bJf0aiJnK
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 11, 2017
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) (L) and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) participate in an executive business meeting in April, 2017.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
As the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced five Trump administration nominees for lifetime positions as federal judges on Thursday, special attention was paid to one of them: 36-year-old Brett Talley.
Talley’srésumé, which features a J.D. from Harvard but a minority of its cumulative years spent practicing law, raised eyebrows and dissent from the committee’s Democrats.
“It seems to me that when you get to the bench of a federal trial court, it would be helpful to have tried a case before,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee’s ranking member.
Indeed, answering a questionnaire for judicial nominees, Talley stated, “I have not tried a case.”
The committee’s partisan 11-9 vote on Thursday sends Talley and the other nominees onto the full Senate for votes that are expected to break similarly along party lines.
Before the Senate committee’s meeting, the American Bar Association had unanimously deemed Talley “not qualified” for his nomination to preside over a federal court in Alabama. The group said in a separate letter that it “believes that Mr. Talley does not presently have the requisite trial experience or its equivalent.”
Last month, Feinstein crticized Talley’s credentials, stating “you graduated from law school only ten years ago, and you have spent only a small portion of time since then practicing law.”
According to his LinkedIn page, following his graduation from Harvard Law School in 2007, he appears to have worked as a clerk, as the deputy solicitor general for the Alabama attorney general and as a writer for two prominent politicians. The first was as a “senior writer” for former Gov. Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2012, the second as a “speechwriter” for Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) between 2013 and 2015.
Talley’s involvement in overtly political work appeared to arouse concern from some on the Senate Judiciary Committee about his ability to rule fairly over cases.
Feinstein noted tweets in which Talley had referred to the 2016 Democratic nominee for president “Hillary Rotten Clinton” and blog posts he authored that seemed to display a steadfast allegiance to gun rights advocates.
A month after a gunman killed 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Talley described efforts by the Obama administration to advance gun control legislation as follows: “the President and his democratic allies in Congress are about to launch the greatest attack on our constitutional freedoms in our lifetime.”
One month later, as the national debate over gun control raged on, Talley responded to reader’s comment that “[w]e will have to resort to arms when our other rights—of speech, press, assembly, representative government—fail to yield the desired results,” by writing, “I agree with this completely.”
When pressed by Feinstein about these statements and others, Talley reminded the committee that previous judicial nominees had managed to move beyond their polemical pasts to hear cases impartially and that he intended to “fully and faithfully comply with these obligations.”
Since 1989, the ABA has only unanimously voted to label four federal judge nominees “not qualified,” and as NPR’s Carrie Johnson reported, two of those have occurred in the first year of the Trump administration. While some liberal activists see this as a troubling trend, others argue the ABA’s judgment is overvalued.
“I’m very concerned about the ABA’s procedure. It’s not a neutral and nonpartisan process as it stands,” Carrie Severino of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network told NPR’s Johnson.
In its letter, the ABA clarified that it “did not have any questions about Mr. Talley’s integrity or temperament.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that he was not perturbed by the committee’s approval of Talley in the face of the ABA’s pronouncement. Grassley said the move was certainly not unprecedented, adding, “in fact, most nominees who have received this rating came out of Committee with a unanimous vote or by voice vote.”
“Putin and his entourage are absolutely not interested in bad relations with America. They’re scared of that. But the circumstances are such that they can’t help but use anti-Americanism to strengthen their grip on power,” says Gennady Gudkov, an opposition politician formerly with the KGB, shown here in February.
Kommersant Photo/Kommersant via Getty Images
Kommersant Photo/Kommersant via Getty Images
Gennady Gudkov, a retired KGB colonel, peered at me across his dark, vaulted office in an old Moscow manor house.
“I’m going to tell you something that I’ve never told anyone before,” he said. “About 10 years ago, Russia had the opportunity to seriously influence election results in France.”
Gudkov, then a Russian lawmaker for a pro-government party, says he was given damaging material on a French presidential candidate that could have tipped the election. Gudkov says he passed the information to the Russian Foreign Ministry, which told him that if the material leaked out, it would pose an “enormous, insane risk” for future relations with Paris.
There was no leak.
Today Gudkov is an opposition politician, who broke with the Kremlin during a wave of anti-government protests six years ago. But like President Vladimir Putin, Gudkov, 61, spent the dying days of the Soviet Union serving in the powerful Committee for State Security, better known by its Russian abbreviation KGB.
Even as the Kremlin categorically denies trying to influence the U.S. presidential election last year, Gudkov says he believes there were attempts to do so.
“Of course, the people who organized them did everything to hide the traces of such interference – and exclude the chance that the government’s role would be discovered,” Gudkov said.
He calls the influence campaign unprecedented and, citing his own experience, a dramatic change in Russian policy from just a decade ago.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union did try to influence politics in less developed countries, Gudkov says, but not in rival powers such as the United States, France or Great Britain.
So what changed?
“It was the fear that Hillary Clinton would come and take an even tougher stance toward Russia,” said Gudkov.
In particular, the personalized sanctions implemented after Putin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea were starting to squeeze the Russian elite.
“What we’re talking about is the new concept of so-called hybrid war, which a government wages but won’t admit to,” he said. “It’s extremely hard to prove.”
Alexander Lebedev, another KGB veteran, takes a different view.
From the 11th floor of his corporate headquarters in Moscow, Lebedev, 57, runs a business empire that includes Russia’s independent Novaya Gazeta and two London newspapers.
He smirked when I asked him if Russia is fighting a “hybrid war.”
“This is a John le Carré-type of invention: hybrid war. What kind of hybrid war is that? I mean, everybody is carrying on and exercising influence the way they can,” he said.
The technology may be new, Lebedev says, but Russia is only doing what all great powers have always done.
“It’s only fair to treat it as a phenomenon where all the major countries are using all the resources they can to influence others to follow their goals,” he said. “So why should it be one-sided – that the Americans are always right, and the Russians are always wrong?”
Russia’s involvement in the U.S. elections had three parts, according to Moscow political analyst Vladimir Frolov.
The first part was “legitimate hacking” — the electronic monitoring of foreign political actors that any intelligence agency engages in.
The second part had to do with leaking that information.
“When intelligence-gathering went to an influence operation, that was crossing the red line,” said Frolov. “Whether the release of data influenced the election is open. But it contributed to negative news.”
The third part was the use of Internet trolls on social media to sow confusion.
“It was about discrediting Hillary and creating chaos. Nobody expected Trump to win,” Frolov said. “It’s funny for Russians that 500-ruble ads on Facebook are being examined by Congress and that the U.S. is attaching so much value to amateurish trolling.”
A so-called “troll factory” in St. Petersburg wasn’t an intelligence operation or even a Kremlin project, said Frolov. Russian journalists believe the agency is funded by a local businessman with connections to Putin.
“It probably had no effect on the outcome of the U.S. elections, but made the people doing it seem important,” he said. “It was an initiative to curry favor [with the Kremlin]. The last thing they thought about was the impact it would have in the United States.”
Even if the influence on the election results was negligible, the collateral damage has been huge, with multiple U.S. investigations into Russian interference dragging relations to a new low.
Gudkov says the Kremlin is actually not seeking conflict with the West.
“In fact, Putin and his entourage are absolutely not interested in bad relations with America. They’re scared of that,” Gudkov said. “But the circumstances are such that they can’t help but use anti-Americanism to strengthen their grip on power.”
The blowback for Russia’s influence campaign may make even greater antagonism a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Lou Reed performs in New York City in 2004. “I wanted to write a book that took Lou … seriously,” says biographer Anthony DeCurtis.
Peter Kramer/Getty Images
Peter Kramer/Getty Images
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Biographer Sought To Write The Kind Of Book Lou Reed ‘Deserved’: “It wasn’t like I had to go looking for the drugs and the sex,” Anthony DeCurtis says. “Lou wrote about it … so I felt it was fair game.” DeCurtis’ new book is Lou Reed: A Life.
‘Lady Bird’ Soars With An Intimate Portrait Of Mother-Daughter Angst: The title character of Greta Gerwig’s new comedy is a Sacramento high school senior who’s in a love-hate relationship with her mother. Critic David Edelstein says Lady Bird is “packed with insight.”
Photographer Pete Souza Reflects On 8 Years (And 1.9 Million Photos) Of Obama: As the chief official White House photographer for President Obama, Souza sometimes shot more than 2,000 photos a day. “I was there all the time,” he says. His new book is Obama: An Intimate Portrait.
You can listen to the original interviews here:
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017.
President Trump says he had several brief conversations this weekend with Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of an Asia Pacific summit the two men were attending in Vietnam.
Trump says the conversations mainly concerned Syria. He and Putin later issued a joint statement, reiterating their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria, as well as their commitment to a political solution to that country’s long-running civil war.
The statement says in part:
“The Presidents agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. They confirmed that the ultimate political solution to the conflict must be forged through the Geneva process pursuant to UNSCR 2254. They also took note of President Asad’s recent commitment to the Geneva process and constitutional reform and elections as called for under UNSCR 2254. “
Trump also told reporters that he asked Putin once again about Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election last year, and that Putin once again denied any such meddling. The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia did interfere, with an eye towards boosting Trump’s political chances.
With an ongoing investigation of Russia’s role in the election, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, the White House is sensitive about any formal sit-down with Putin. Trump told reporters on his way to Asia that he thought a meeting with the Russian president was expected. But White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said scheduling conflicts made such a meeting impossible.
Trump complained that attention to Russia’s meddling had created what he called an “artificial barrier” to doing business with Putin.
“Having a relationship with Russia would be a great thing, especially as it relates to North Korea,” Trump told reporters accompanying him on Air Force One. “It would take a lot of danger out of this world. It’s a dangerous time – this isn’t small stuff.”
Trump said he and Putin did not have time to discuss North Korea during their brief conversations this weekend.