back to top
World

People Are Taking A Stand After A Man Killed A Stranger Because Women Ignored Him

Women in South Korea are furious after law enforcement dismissed the idea that a 23-year-old woman was stabbed to death due to misogyny.

Posted on

Local media reported that the unemployed man, named in the press by his last name, Kim, had a history of mental illness and that he was drawn to murdering her because he felt he was being ignored by women.

"I feel calm. I'd like to apologize to the family for the incident, because their daughter was sacrificed," Kim said in a press conference. "I didn't have any personal feelings about her nor held a grudge against her."

Advertisement

But investigators denied that misogyny was a factor in the murder and determined that the murder was "accidental" and not a hate crime against women.

"There is a need to distinguish between hate crimes and crimes driven by mental illness. The latest case falls in the latter category," local police said during a press conference. "Hate crime arises from prejudice on a certain group, while mental illness–driven crimes are usually committed due to symptoms such as delusional thoughts and auditory hallucination."

Investigators determined that the murder had nothing to do with a culture of misogyny, but actually Kim's untreated mental illness.

Online, law enforcement authorities' denial that misogyny could have been a factor in the murder led to outrage. Two South Korean women's groups set up a Twitter account called @0517am1, named after the date and time of the 23-year-old woman's murder.

Twitter: @0517am1

"People going to Gangnam Station today, for the victim, and also for this incident to not be just 'one of the rest,' please remember at exit number 10 of Gangnam Station the victim and express your condolences. Also, use hashtags to tweet it. #GangnamMurderMan #BathroomMurderer"

They urged Twitter users to cover the subway exit where the unnamed woman's murder took place in Post-it notes and chrysanthemum flowers — a symbol of mourning in South Korea.

At the height of the controversy, every single Korean trending topic was about the murder.

twitter.com / Via beyondhallyu.com

"#GangnamMurder, #ISurvived, #BathroomMan, #BathroomMurderer, #ThoseTimesWhenISaid, RIP, #GangnamStationMurder, Because she was a woman, Sexism, Self-defense"

Advertisement

South Korean celebrities like Jerry K., a rapper, have addressed the controversy, tweeting that reactions from law enforcement and mainstream media to the murder were terrifying.

Twitter: @JerrykMusic

"It's the fact that we're accepting him saying 'I killed her because women ignored me' as a reason for crime. It's the fact that this society thinks that it's OK, and accepts that you're allowed to say that you killed someone because you hate women. That's what's scary."

The attention around the murder and national debates about misogyny in Korean society kicked off a counterprotest from Korean men.

Twitter: @koreaspiritnana

"If we really want to protect women from rape and murder, we have to start by blocking the immigrant labor workers from coming in. You're calling men potential murderers, hating men, while thinking about the human rights for immigrants — is South Korea potentially a killing nation?"

When BuzzFeed News visited the Gangnam subway entrance last week, "Don't hate men" protests had broken out around the station.

Twitter: @Euclid_42

"I am the girl in the photo. I swore while passing by, and then I heard a mid-age man saying 'why does a girl swear like that?' And I wondered if they would say the same thing about a man swearing."

Advertisement

This tweet from a Korean man who was moved by the memorial went viral because it is rare for South Korean men on social media to agree with the largely female protesters.

Twitter: @iseoulyou

"I went solemnly, but felt different, and I felt like crying when I realized that I wasn't alone feeling this way. #ISurvived"

Advertisement

On Facebook, a group of young women are using a page called Gangnam 10th to organize protests. One of the organizers of the group, Yoonha Park, is a 26-year-old from Seoul. She told BuzzFeed News the protests are no longer just about some random murder.

"There were many women standing up and saying that 'we were lucky to have survived,' as well as opening up about experiences of sexual abuse, harassment, discrimination based on gender, and other experiences where they were exposed and treated with violence for being a woman in the society," Park said.

Park said a group of women and her gathered by the subway station entrance with a small megaphone to talk about misogyny, which they see as the reason behind the city's latest stabbing.

Park, an organizer of the Gangnam 10th Facebook group, said she's hopeful about what this outpouring of anger will mean in the long term for South Korean women.

"We know this incident will not just remain as an incident, but serve as evidence that there is extreme misogyny existing in our society and rotting our society," she said.

Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Ryan Broderick at ryan@buzzfeed.com.

Jihye Lee is a freelance journalist based in Seoul, South Korea.

Contact Jihye Lee at .

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.