29 April 2009

SKorean activists to stage alternative beauty pageant

A South Korean women's movement which claims credit for driving the Miss Korea beauty pageant off the airwaves is this weekend staging an alternative festival mocking traditional attitudes to women.

The Anti-Miss Korea Festival, which the movement has staged annually since 1999, is this year changing its name to IF (If you want to become a real Feminist), chief policy planner Gang Soo-Jeong said Friday.

Saturday's event at a Seoul university will focus on economic hardships and sexual mistreatment faced by Korean women during the global economic recession.
"Amid the economic slump, discrimination against women in job opportunities, for example, has become worse. Through this festival, we'll shed light on their adversities and give them a pep talk," Gang told AFP.

One skit mocks an apparent sex-for-favours scandal.

Actress Jang Ja-Yeon, 30, committed suicide last month after leaving messages claiming that she was forced to sleep with high-powered media and entertainment figures to promote her career.

The festival also features a skit on a case involving another actress who unsuccessfully challenged a law which criminalises adultery.

Gang said the Miss Korea beauty pageant was taken off the air in 2002 "because our campaign against it worked out pretty well."

Although attitudes are changing, Korea has traditionally been a male-dominated society.

The US State Department's 2007 human rights report noted that "gender discrimination in the workplace remained a problem."