MP’s short red dress in parliament sparks sexism debate in South Korea


A South Korean lawmaker who wore a short colourful dress to parliament has become a target of misogynistic abuse online, prompting debate about sexism and the country’s outdated attitudes towards women in the workplace.

Ryu Ho-jeong, 28, who is a member of the progressive minor Justice Party and the country’s youngest lawmaker, drew both criticism and support online for her willingness to challenge an outdated norm.

Photos of Ryu Ho-jeong, 28, walking down an aisle during a plenary parliamentary session Tuesday in a red wrap dress appeared online. Her choice of outfit is a vivid contrast to the dark suits and ties worn by most male MPs.

Among the comments which appeared on a Facebook forum for supporters of the governing Democratic party, said Ryu “looked as if she had come to the assembly chamber to collect payment for alcoholic drinks”, according to the Yonhap news agency.

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 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. “The authority of the national assembly is not built on those suits.”

Ryu is part of a growing movement of South Korean women who are challenging outdated expectations of how they should appear in public.

The “escape the corset” campaign 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. (Source: The Guardian)