South Korean politician links rising male suicides to women

After blaming the increase in male suicides on the extremely “dominant” role that women play in society, a legislator in South Korea is facing criticism for making risky and unsupported remarks.

Kim Ki-duck, the council for Seoul City, claimed in a statement that women’s increased employment over the years had made it more difficult for men to get women who wanted to marry them.

He claimed that the country had just “begun to transform into a society dominated by women” and that this might “partly account for an increase in adult suicide attempts.”

South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates among the richest nations in the world and has the worst gender equality information.

The remarks made by Councillor Kim have received criticism for being the most recent in a line of out-of-touch statements made by female politicians.

Councillor Kim of the Democrat Party came to his conclusion after analyzing data on the number of attempted suicides along Seoul’s Han valley.

The report, published on the city council’s official website, showed that the number of suicide attempts along the river had risen from 430 in 2018 to 1, 035 in 2023, and of those trying to take their lives the proportion who were men had climbed from 67 % to 77 %.

Experts in the field of suicide prevention are concerned about Mr. Kim’s statement.

” It is harmful and unwise to make statements like this without sufficient evidence”, Song Han, a mental health teacher at Seoul’s Yonsei University, told the BBC.

He noted that more people perished than women on a global scale. In many countries, including the UK, death is the biggest killer of people under 50.

Even so, Prof. Song said it was “very unfortunate” that the council had made the report about gender conflict and that the causes of the sharp increase in men attempting death in Seoul needed to be medically studied.

There is a significant gap between the number of men and women working full-time in South Korea, with women disproportionately having momentary or part-time tasks. The gender pay gap is slowly narrowing, but also women are paid on regular 29 % less than men.

In recent years, a growing anti-feminist activity has emerged, led by angry young men who claim they have been unfairly disadvantaged by efforts to make improvements to children’s life.

Appearing to echo such sights, Councillor Kim’s report concluded that the way to conquer” the female-domination trend” was to increase people’s knowledge of gender equality but that “men and women may enjoy similar opportunities”.

Koreans took to the social media platform X to reject the mayor’s remarks as “unsubstantiated” and “misogynistic”, with one person questioning whether they were living in a horizontal world.

The justice group accused the council of “easily shifting the blame to girls in Asian culture who are struggling to escape female discrimination.” He has been instructed to “properly analyze” the causes of the problem and retract his remarks.

Councillor Kim stated when the BBC inquired about comment that he had” not intended to be critical of the female-dominated society” and that he was merely providing his personal opinion about some of its effects.

However, his comments come in response to a number of unscientific and occasionally bizarre political proposals that aim to address some of South Korea’s most pressing social issues, including gender violence, and the country’s lowest birth rate in the world.

Another Seoul councillor in his 60s published a number of articles on the authority’s website last month encouraging young women to engage in pelvic floor gymnastics and pelvic floor exercises to increase the birth rate.

A government think tank at the same time suggested that girls start school earlier than boys so that classmates would become more attracted to one another by the time their unions were complete.

” Such comments encapsulate just how pervasive misogyny is in South Korea”, said Yuri Kim, director of the Korean Women’s Trade Union. She claimed that politicians and policymakers did n’t even try to understand the difficulties women faced and instead preferred to use them as scapegoats.

She told the BBC,” Blaming women for entering the workforce will only only increase the social imbalances.”

Currently women account for 20 % of South Korea’s members of parliament, and 29 % of all local councillors.

Seoul City Council informed the BBC that there was no way to check political content published on its official website unless it was against the law. It stated that individuals were solely liable for their content and that they would be subject to consequences at the following election.

Hosu Lee and Leehyun Choi provided additional reporting.

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