South Korea Politician Blames "Female-Dominant" Society For Increasing Male Suicides

In a report, the councillor argued that women’s increased participation in the workforce over the years had made it harder for men to get jobs and to find women who wanted to marry them.

South Korea Edited by Updated: Jul 10, 2024, 11:15 am
South Korea Politician Blames

South Korea Politician Blames "Female-Dominant" Society Increasing For Male Suicides (X image@MutinAntoine)

Seoul City councillor Kim Ki-duck of South Korea is being criticised for making dangerous and unsubstantiated comments as he links a rise in male suicides to the increasingly “dominant” role of women in society.

In a report, the councillor argued that women’s increased participation in the workforce over the years had made it harder for men to get jobs and to find women who wanted to marry them. He said Seoul had recently “begun to change into a female-dominant society” and that this might “partly be responsible for an increase in male suicide attempts”.

While comparing among world’s richest country, South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates, and the worst records on gender equality.

Kim’s comments are the latest among the series of out-of-touch remarks made by male politicians in the country. He came to his conclusion after analysing the data on the number of suicide attempts made at bridges along Seoul’s Han river.

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The report, which was published on the city council’s official website, showed that the number of suicide attempts along the river had risen from 430 in 2018 to 1,035 in 2023, and of men who are trying to take their lives had climbed from 67% to 77%.

The suicide prevention experts expressed concern over Kim’s report. “It is dangerous and unwise to make claims like this without sufficient evidence”, Song Han, a mental health professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University, told BBC.

He said that more men took their lives than women on global level. In several countries, including the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50. Still, the reasons behind the sharp rise in men attempting suicide in Seoul needed to be scientifically studied, said Song. He also added that it was “very regrettable” that the councillor had made it about gender conflict.

The gap between the number of men and women on full time employment is substantial in South Korea, with the women population disproportionately working temporary or part-time jobs. Though the gender pay gap is coming down slowly, still women are paid on average 29% less than men.

Recently, the anti-feminist movement has surged, led by disillusioned young men, who argue they have been disadvantaged by attempts to improve women’s lives, said media report.

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Kim, who is from the Democratic party, concluded his report by saying that the way to overcome “the female-domination phenomenon” was to improve people’s awareness of gender equality so that “men and women can enjoy equal opportunities”.

Koreans denounced Kim’s remarks as “unsubstantial”, and “misogynistic”. The Justice Party accused Kim of “easily shifting the blame to women in Korean society who are struggling to escape gender discrimination”. The party called on him to retract his remarks and instead “properly analyse” the causes of the problem.

When asked to comment, Kim told BBC that he had “not intended to be critical of the female-dominated society”, and was merely giving his personal view about some of its consequences.

Seoul politicians are coming up with bizarre comments. Last month, another Seoul councillor in his 60s published a series of articles on the authority’s website encouraging young women to take up gymnastics and practise pelvic floor exercises in order to raise the birth rate.

A government think tank recommended that girls start school earlier than boys, so that classmates would be more attracted to each other by the time they were ready to marry.

The Seoul City Council told the BBC there was no process in place to vet what politicians published on its official website unless the content was illegal. It said individuals were solely responsible for their content and would face any consequences at the next election.

(This news story may contain content to suicide and suicidal behavior. Such topics can be sensitive and may trigger emotional responses. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors, we urge you to seek help immediately. Contact your local mental health crisis hotline, a mental health professional, or a trusted person in your life.

You may call 14416 or 1-8008914416 Tele MANAS service, a comprehensive mental health care service by the Government of India.)