Park Na-rae, a comic, grabbed a male doll, positioned its plastic arm between its legs and made a suggestive comment.
By the requirements of Western comedy, the stunt on her YouTube present in March would have hardly appeared offensive. But the skit turned a scandal in her residence nation, South Korea. Legions of aggrieved younger males accused her of sexual harassment. The police are investigating.
The scandal has made headlines for weeks and has threatened to inflict lasting harm on Ms. Park’s career, two years after she turned the primary feminine comic from South Korea to host a Netflix particular.
Her supporters say the outcry illustrates a double commonplace in a tradition the place males typically brag about sexual conquests and the place sexual harassment is endemic, however the place girls who dare to say intercourse in public may be penalized.
“For guys, it’s a cool thing to be sexual,” mentioned Jamie Suk, 26, a digital content material supervisor for a company in Seoul. “But for women, it’s something they’re supposed to keep hidden.”
Ms. Suk mentioned that whereas she thought-about Ms. Park’s stunt “rude, even if it was just to a doll,” the criticism and police response have been blatantly unfair. “If Ms. Park is to undergo police investigations, so should every individual accused of a violation of the same or worse degree,” she mentioned.
The controversy surrounding Ms. Park, 35, facilities on the present “Hey Na-rae,” which she began on a YouTube channel this year. The present was a bit raunchy from the beginning. In an early episode, Ms. Park used her hand to imitate male masturbation and joked about a “pepper in the pants,” slang for penis.
But it was her stunt with the doll that prompted enmity from male critics.
Ms. Park’s skit could have touched a nerve as a result of it advised that Korean girls ought to be free to pursue their very own sexual impulses, mentioned Mo Hyun-joo, an anthropologist in Seoul who specializes in gender points and digital tradition.
Some Korean girls say they consider that Ms. Park’s stunt “crossed the line,” Dr. Mo mentioned. “But at the same time, women think that young men have also crossed the line. Considering their misogynistic activities, online and offline, women think, ‘Do they have the right to accuse her?’”
In social media threads, many of her critics famous that one of Ms. Park’s co-hosts on one other comedy present, a graphic novelist, Kim Hee-min, who writes beneath the pen identify Kian84, had not too long ago been pressured to take a four-week break after girls complained that one of his comedian strips suggested that women use sex to get jobs. Since he was punished for inappropriate feedback, they argued, Ms. Park ought to be referred to as to account, as effectively.
Lee Wonjae, a professor on the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology who research on-line, mentioned that almost all of Ms. Park’s critics weren’t trolls from misogynistic, far-right web sites, however strange males from mainstream society.
Professor Lee mentioned that many younger males in South Korea — which has one of the very best gender pay gaps in the developed world — really feel threatened by sure gender developments and President Moon Jae-in’s makes an attempt to push for gender equality. These males see girls as rising opponents for jobs and gaining extra bargaining energy in the wedding market.
“Why are you going to support women more? Look at me: I’m doing my military service. What are you doing for me?” he mentioned of how younger males see their lot in life. “That is the message.” (Men in South Korea age 18 to twenty-eight are required to serve in the army for about two years.)
Sexism is deeply entrenched in South Korea. There is an epidemic of males utilizing hidden cameras to spy on girls in public restrooms and altering rooms. Misogynistic posts are a defining characteristic of Reddit-like boards. “It’s everyday life, this kind of gender conflict, misogyny, backlash and hatred,” Dr. Mo mentioned.
In the realm of authorities, a former Seoul mayor, Park Won-soon, was one of many male politicians to be accused of sexual harassment. (He died by suicide final year.) And the Seoul authorities apologized this year after issuing pointers that suggested pregnant girls to cook dinner, clear and work on their appearances to make sure that their husbands nonetheless discovered them engaging.
In the leisure business, some males have confronted criticism or jail phrases for sexual misconduct. Notably, two Ok-pop stars have been sentenced to jail in 2019 for raping girls who have been too drunk to consent to intercourse.
Yet, different male celebrities and public figures have made sexist remarks with out dealing with the sort of scrutiny confronted by Ms. Park. She already had a fame for pushing the boundaries of what feminine South Korean comedians can say or do. She started her 2019 Netflix particular, “Glamour Warning,” by speaking about her “first time doing it without a man.”
Ms. Park resigned from her YouTube present a few days after the scandal broke. The Seoul police later mentioned that they have been investigating the harassment claims to find out whether or not she had damaged any legal guidelines. The police didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.
OpenNet, a South Korean nongovernmental group that advocates for web privateness, mentioned this month that her doll stunt didn’t represent sexual harassment beneath insurance policies set by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. The group mentioned that she had merely tried to specific feminine sexual identification.
Ms. Park’s expertise company, JDB Entertainment, mentioned that she was not accessible for an interview.
In a handwritten be aware to her 1.8 million Instagram followers in March, Ms. Park mentioned that it was her responsibility as a performer and public determine to “take responsibility” for her personal appearing and props. “I am nothing but sorry to the many people who trusted and supported me,” she wrote.
Last month, she visited her grandparents for one of her different tv reveals, “I Live Alone,” and expressed regret for the way her stunt with the doll had brought on hurt to her castmates.
“Humans are imperfect,” her grandfather, who was not named in the printed, mentioned as Ms. Park burst into tears. “Don’t listen to hate.”