“A Day Without Women” on the Streets of South Korea

ké radar

Today was International Women’s Day, and South Korean women took this celebration to another level. Korean Women Workers Association (KWWA) held a “Day Without Women” march in downtown Seoul and other cities nationwide, calling out for women to fight against the gender wage gap. In Korean, the event was literally called the “Stop at 3 p.m, Leaving Work Early” march. 

Under the slogan “#3 P.M STOP,” the demonstration went viral both online and offline: Women who could not participate in the march joined indirectly by uploading photographs on social media.

https://twitter.com/BAK_Yee/status/839357470883504128 

“#STOP@3PM! International Women’s Day.” 

“If you can’t leave work early, I encourage you to #SlackOff: zone out, drink coffee, and randomly go to the bathroom. You who receive 640,000 won for every man’s one million won, #StopRightThere.” 

Why 3 p.m? Gender wage gap calculations say that South Korean women work for free from three o’clock in an 8-hour work day. According to OECD statistics, South Korean women make around 65 percent of what men make, making the country’s gender wage gap the largest among OECD nations. Among the member nations, “A Day Without Women” march starts the earliest in South Korea. (In France, the march started at 4:34 p.m last year.) 

(Source: OECD)

Thirty more countries worldwide are participating in this demonstration on International Women’s Day. For South Korea, this year was its very first “Day Without Women” protest. 

South Korea’s march against the gender wage gap wasn’t without its critics. “Today’s march was highly politicized by the main organizer, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions,” said a representative from the women’s committee of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union. “They mobilized men who were completely ignorant of feminists issues, and I felt like they ruined the atmosphere today. It was so ironic that a women’s march on a women’s day got ruined by rude displays of masculinity.”

Participants from the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union. One of the banners say, “Let’s teach girls not perfection, but courage!”

Lee Hak-geum, a vice-branch manager of KWWA, told Korea Exposé: “I was glad that different organizations could get together and chant powerful slogans together; I am looking forward to seeing more active gatherings like this.”

 

Cover Image: “3 p.m STOP.” (Seohoi Stephanie Park/Korea Exposé)

Seohoi Stephanie Park wrote this radar report. She contributed all protest images. 

Seohoi is a former intern at Korea Exposé and currently an undergrad at Yonsei Underwood International College, where she studies political science and international relations.