About 500 angry Korean announcers brought lawmaker Kang Yong-seok to the prosecution on libel charges on Wednesday, a day after his political party expelled him over his sexist remarks.
Announcers including Seong Se-jeong (center), president of the Korea Announcers' Association, and lawyer Song Pyeong-soo (second from left) enter the Seoul Southern District Prosecutor's Office to file a lawsuit against Rep. Kang Yong-seok in Seoul Wednesday.
The association of Korean announcers filed a complaint against the 41-year-old Harvard-educated rookie politician, demanding Rep. Kang apologize and resign as a member of the National Assembly.
"Rep. Kang should be responsible for sexist comments against women and announcers," said Seong Se-jeong, head of the Korea Announcers' Association, which represents 480 Korean announcers.
"Regardless of the Grand National Party's ousting of Kang, he should be held accountable as a lawmaker," he said, before entering the Seoul Southern District Prosecutor's Office with other announcers representing MBC, KBS and SBS.
Lawyer Song Pyeong-soo, the legal representative for the association, said Kang's remarks not only defamed news anchorwomen but "gave them a feeling of shame and an enormous amount of emotional distress."
Fueling the public anger, local news reports revealed additional sexist remarks allegedly made by Kang when he had a dinner party with 20 university students on July 16.
Kang reportedly said, "Rep. Na Kyung-won of the GNP has a pretty face but makes a poor presence because of her short height."
Commenting on Rep. Jeon Hyeon-hee of the opposition Democratic Party, he was also quoted as saying "lawmakers older than 60 are lining up to get a chance to have a dinner with Rep. Jeon."
The announcers' en masse action is the latest development in the sexist remark scandal, which is snowballing with angry internet users' comments on his Naver blog and Twitter account.
Kang posted a rebuttal on his blog, saying the report run in the JoongAng Ilbo on Tuesday was groundless.
In his statement, Kang said he did not make any sexist comments in response to a question fielded by a Yonsei University female student about a career path as a news anchorwoman.
He was responding to a news report by the daily, which quoted the student as saying that Kang said to her, "You will have to give "everything." Can you still do it?"
This remark implies that would-be announcers should be willing to provide sex to producers or TV executives if they want to be hired.
The controversial comment immediately prompted uproar from female announcers and women in general.
However, Kang said he heard directly from the student herself on the phone later Tuesday that she told a JoongAng Ilbo reporter that the comments quoted by the newspaper were not true.
He also claimed that the newspaper's editor in charge of social affairs had told him that the newspaper was not going to run the story on Kang because "it lacked elements to qualify as an article."
His defending claims posted on the blog have been flooded with pros and cons on Kang's behavior.
A netizen with an ID name of "Jeolje" said the JoongAng Ilbo might have exaggerated Kang's comments or edited the story in the way the newspaper wanted and that Kang could be just a scapegoat among lawmakers in South Korea.
"If you shed the light only on a specific part of the story and cut out the rest, almost no lawmaker will be innocent. I'll be watching how the truth will be unveiled," the netizen said.
Another supporter of Kang said he was just honest and open about Korean society's reality.
"There's nothing better than telling the truth to college students who have to face reality right after graduation. What's wrong with Kang's openness at a dinner/drink party?" said a comment by a netizen named "hwarim1."
On the other side, a netizen posted that there would be no reason for the JoongAng Ilbo to take such a big risk to run a false article.