For the second time in as many months, a disturbing video of western men sexually assaulting a drunken Korean woman has gone viral, igniting a national debate on race and gender in the East Asian nation—and forcing the victim to endure a second round of harassment, this time online.
Every moment of the video’s 1 minute and 18 seconds looms with the threat of sexual violence. It opens in a dark club with tinny dance music playing in the background. A Western man is sitting with his arm around a woman who’s obviously uncomfortable with the contact—she leans away, looking downward. “Yeah we gotta get a picture of this bitch,” the cameraman says, and the video swoops down to her thighs. “Look at her fucking legs, man.”
This is a full body inspection. “Wait wait wait,” the first guy says. “We gotta get the boobs in there, we gotta get the boobs in there.” and now the camera swings back up to her chest. The woman squirms as the he brushes her hair away from her cleavage “Kchaaaaa!” someone says.
It’s not clear if they knew the woman before this moment at the club. She’s obviously drunk. Her eyes are glazed over and head rolls. The guy with the camera moves in for a closeup of her face as the one sitting next to her shoves his finger up her nose. She tries to pull his hand away but doesn’t have the strength.
“I see a booger! I see a booger!”
“Dude make her eat it!”
He jams his finger right down her throat and all three of the guys burst out in laughter as she recoils. They yank up her lips and notice a dark stain on her gums, and now they toss abuse at her so fast it’s hard to tell who’s saying what.
“That is fucking rancid.”
“Oh my god!”
“Why don’t you get plastic surgery like every fucking other little Korean bitch.”
“You need to go to the dentist, you little hooker.”
She’s fighting back now, pushing angrily against her attackers, but the man won’t let her go. FInally she breaks loose, says “fuck you” in English and walks away. The video ends with her back to the camera as the men hurl a chorus of abuse after her.
A version of the video with Korean subtitles first surfaced on YouTube June 8 and was met with a flood of outrage from the Korean Web, but that died down after the video-sharing site quickly took it down, citing its policy against harassment. But when someone uploaded it again to Facebook last week, the furor started all over again, drawing attention from several national media outlets and launching a nationwide debate about what many believe to be the predatory behavior of Western men.
Tens of thousands of American troops are housed in army bases across the country, around which sexual assaults and rapes are not uncommon. To some, the video is less an outlier than an example of a pernicious pattern of behavior. The Washington Post’s Max Fisher explains:
The significance of this video extends, for many Koreans, way beyond just these two Western men harassing one Korean woman. Western expats have been in Seoul for years. As in other Asian cities, these expat communities can have their bad apples, typically young men who misbehave, either because it’s in their nature, because they think they can get away with things in Asia that would be never be tolerated at home, or both.
The abuse in this case persists well beyond the behavior of the three men in the video. In Korean forums, some commenters are blaming the woman. She shouldn’t have been hanging out with foreign men in the first place. She got what was coming to her, they say.
“She went crazy over white guys, lived at a club, and ran into trouble,” one Jagei.com commenter surmised. Another wrote, “After that, I think she’s going to go clubbing to meet white guys again.”
Thankfully, the woman’s identity hasn’t been revealed. Unfortunately, the same is true for the men, who’ve managed to escape entirely what would surely be some vicious vigilante justice from the Korean Web.
Photo via YouTube