Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Is Korean "business (bars) as usual" an impediment to Gender Equality?

To commemorate Women's Day here in Korea a foreign reporter from the Wall Street Journal asked Korea's Finance Minister for his opinion as to whether the widespread practice of conducting business negotiations within brothels was an impediment to achieving gender equality in the Korean workplace.

Given Korea's strongly nationalistic character this was a very provocative question, as the reporter surely knew. In response the Finance Minister gave a very politically measured response, dismissing the premise of the question as "incorrect" and refusing to speculate on the reasons for Korea's steep gender inequality.

Following the press conference this same reporter, while defending his Korean female colleague from some unkind words coming from the Finance Minister's spokespersons, cursed at those spokespersons.

Korea's largest news organization, Yonhap, was predictably outraged at such a perceived affront to Korean dignity.

Wow. Talk about unproductive. If the Wall Street Journal and Yonhap are engaging in this kind of juvenile hot-headedness, can we really expect anything better from the general population on either side of the Pacific?


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