Internet hot over ’bikini protest’
By Kim Rahn
A “bikini protest” in support of a jailed podcast host is igniting a stir, with some comments by men on the photos revealing women’s cleavage drawing criticism.
The issue arose on Jan. 20 when a woman posted a photo of herself in a bikini on a website calling for the release of former lawmaker Chung Bong-ju, who co-hosted the anti-President Lee Myung-bak talk show “Naneun Ggomsuda” (I’m a petty trickster), often called “Naggomsu.”
Chung was put behind bars late last year after being found guilty of defaming Lee by spreading false rumors about him during
The website has a section where citizens upload photos in support of Chung. In the photo in question, a woman wearing a bikini and sunglasses poses with the phrase written on her chest: “I want Chung out to the point of my breasts exploding.”
Several similar photos were posted afterwards.
Some bloggers were enthusiastic about her efforts, while others said it was sensationalism.
But it was not until two of the show’s remaining three hosts talked about it on their Twitter accounts that the issue became more serious.
One of them, political commentator Kim Yong-min, said in the show aired on Jan. 21, “Chung, living apart from his wife, is taking pills to suppress his sexual desire. Women are advised to post their photos in swimsuits.”
Another host, SisaIN magazine reporter Choo Chin-woo, left a written message to Chung during a visit to him in prison on Jan. 27 which said: “The photo of the supportive breasts is awesome! But be careful not to get a nose bleed.” He took a photo of the message and posted it on his Twitter.
Calls for an apology
Regarding those comments, novelist Gong Ji-young, who is an ardent supporter of Chung, expressed displeasure on her Twitter on Saturday, calling for the hosts to retract their statements.
“I’ve written a novel to call for heavier punishments for child molesters in the Republic of Korea, which is a world of male chauvinism. This is a country where those sexually assaulting a female schoolmate are released with suspended jail terms because they were drunk, the girl was insufficiently dressed, or she was deemed a slut. This is a country where 70 percent of men have bought sex, so it is natural that people’s perspective on women’s bodies is political,” she said.
Gong said the first bikini photo may have presented a fresh idea, but it has become controversial.
“The issue became serious after some conservative media reported it and Naggomsu members called it awesome. Macho men supporting the breast shots have posted unpleasant, sexually harassing comments and even some women said they were sacrificing themselves.”
The novelist said she opposes such methods to campaign for Chung’s release and is at odds with Naggomsu members who have no regard for it. “Despite of all this, my support for Naggomsu hasn’t changed. Even though we have contrasting opinions on an issue, we are still friends and comrades.”
Bloggers are also making comments.
A member of Chung’s online fan club said, “We are not cheerleaders for the progressive. The photo of the breasts was only showmanship.”
Another blogger, seaman, said, “I doubt whether the woman in the bikini even knows who Chung Bong-ju is. I think it is her own buzz marketing to become famous.”