By Yun Suh-young
The main host of a popular podcast “Naneun Ggomsuda” (I’m a petty trickster) said Saturday that the controversial comments made by himself and two other co-hosts on “bikini support” from their female fans did not constitute sexual harassment.
Kim Ou-joon, the head host of the political podcast, also known as “Naggomsu,” said during a meeting with his fans at Seoul’s Mapo Art Center that their comments were “not sexual harassment, nor were they intended to be.”
It is the first time for Kim to publicly address the issue which had triggered fierce debates on the Internet for several weeks amid growing pressure from women’s rights groups that they apologize for their “sexually-harassing” comments.
Kim said that in order for the comments to be sexually harassing, inequality of power must exist.
“The woman who uploaded the picture must feel like she would be disadvantaged if she said she was sexually humiliated. However, the woman did not feel that way and we don’t have the power to suppress her from saying it. Therefore, sexual harassment did not take place,” he said.
Kim made it clear that they would not retract or regret the comments. “The right to express a political opinion using one’s body should be recognized,” he said.
The show’s three hosts had called for participation last month from women to send photos of themselves wearing bikinis in support of the “pitiful colleague who is suppressing his sexual desires in prison.”
One of the show’s hosts, Chung Bong-ju, is currently serving a one-year jail term for spreading false rumors about President Lee Myung-bak during the 2007 campaign.
The request was made after a woman uploaded a picture of herself in a bikini on the online club campaigning for Chung’s release. She wrote on her breast, “I want Chung out to the point of my breasts exploding.”
Upon the hosts’ request to continue on the campaign, several other women also uploaded their bikini pictures.
The three hosts even warned Chung to “be careful not to get a nosebleed (from sexual arousal)” during their visit to him in prison.
One male photographer also uploaded a photo of his nude body on the online club calling for Chung’s release saying that “the days of depicting women’s femininity through bikinis is over. That’s too childish. We fight in our own way.”
The controversy is showing no signs of abating as a senior female reporter from MBC joined in the rally and uploaded a bikini photo of herself on Twitter last Friday with the comment: “I call for the release of Chung to the point of my breasts shrinking.”
Regarding the main host Kim’s explanation Saturday, reactions were mixed. Some Twitter users lamented the fact that Kim had to give an explanation to something that could be laughed over, whereas others responded the lack of apology is rueful.
정봉주 전 의원의 구명을 요구하는 ‘비키니 1인 시위 인증샷’ 논란에 대해 인터넷 팟캐스트 방송 ‘나는 꼼수다’(나꼼수) 측이 입장을 전했다.
나꼼수 진행자인 김어준 ‘딴지일보’ 총수는 4일 오후 서울 마포아트센터에서 시사주간지 시사인(IN) 주최로 열린 ‘시사인 토크 콘서트’에서 “성희롱할 의도가 없었다”며 “성희롱이 아니다”라고 못 박았다.
김 총수는 “성희롱에는 권력의 불평등 관계가 전제돼야 한다”며 “사진을 올린 여성이 우리 때문에 성적 수치심을 느꼈다고 말했다가는 우리한테서 불이익을 당할 것 같다는 관계가 우리와 그녀 사이에 존재해야 한다는 것”이라고 강조했다.
그는 “우리에게 (성희롱할) 의도가 없었지만 그녀도 그렇게 받아들이지 않았다”며 “우리에게는 그녀가 싫다는데도 수영복을 올리라고 말할 권리가 없고 거꾸로 그녀가 성적 수치심을 느끼는데 그 말을 못하게 할 권력도 없다. 따라서 성희롱이 성립하지 않는다”고 주장했다.
김 총수는 다만 “여성이 오랜 세월 성적 약자였기 때문에 이런 이슈에 예민할 수 있고 그럴 권리가 있는 것을 인정한다. 그건 그건 약자의 권리”라고 말했다.
주진우 시사인 기자도 “우리가 던지는 얘기에 특히 여성들이 불편했다면 그 부분에 대해서는 죄송하다”고 사과했다.
하지만 김 총수는 “동시에 자신의 몸을 이용해 정치적 표현을 할 자유가 있고 그 권리도 인정돼야 한다”며 “자신이 불쾌하다고 이 권리를 제약해서는 안 된다”고 덧붙였다.
그는 “(논란이 불거진) 다음 날에라도 설명했으면 금방 끝났을 일이지만 내가 못하게 했다”며 “모든 논란에는 기승전결이 있다. 나올 수 있는 얘기가 다 나오는 게 좋고 그 다음에 정리하면 되니 억울해도 참으라고 한 것”이라고 말했다.