Sung Jae-gi

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Sung Jae-gi
Hangul 성재기
Hanja 成在基
Revised Romanization Seong Jaegi
McCune–Reischauer Sŏng Chaegi
Born (1967-09-11)September 11, 1967
Daegu, South Korea
Died July 26, 2013(2013-07-26) (aged 45)
Seoul, South Korea
Cause of death Suicide by drowning
Nationality South Korean
Other names Shimheon, Blue Wolf (pen name)
Alma mater Yeungnam University
Occupation Writer
Children Two daughters
Website Twitter account

Sung Jae-gi (Hangul성재기; Hanja成在基 [səːŋ dʑɛgi]; September 11, 1967 – July 26, 2013) was a South Korean men's rights activist and anti-feminist. Sung founded and was the first chairman of Man of Korea, a men's rights group advocating the abolition of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family—whose Korean name (여성부; 女性部) translates as "Ministry of Women"—and demanded compensation for the South Korean military-service requirement.[1] He also argued for free love and sexual and male liberation.

During the early 21st century, Sung led the South Korean anti-feminist movement opposing female-preferential policies. In early adulthood he was a businessman, and in October 1999 he participated in the movement opposing the abolition of preferential treatment for discharged soldiers. Sung also opposed the abolition of the Hoju system, and later participated in men's-rights activities. In 2006 he founded the Association of Anti-Feminism and Male Liberation, and in 2007 he founded the Association for the Abolition of the Ministry of Women. The following year, Sung founded Man of Korea and was its chairman from 2008 until his death in 2013. His business activities included a nightclub and a consulting and executive search company.

From 1999 until his death Sung argued for the restoration of the Korean Army bonus points system, and during the early 2010s he was an activist for the abolition of women-only facilities.[2] In 2011, he began offering assistance and counseling to battered husbands, househusbands, teenage runaways and male and child victims of violent crime. Sung opened a shelter for homeless persons, male victims of violent crime, teenage runaways and gay and transgender people. From 1999 to 2013, Sung was part of the gender liberation and liberal movements and the movement to abolish the women's special-benefits policy.

Near the end of his life Sung was reportedly up to ₩200 million in debt, and on July 25, 2013 he posted on the Man of Korea website his intention to commit suicide.[3] The next day, in what was thought a publicity stunt to benefit the Men's Alliance (his group), Sung jumped from the Mapo Bridge in Seoul. His body was found four days later.[4]

Sung wrote under the pen names Blue Wolf (Korean: 푸른늑대), Tongbalbass (Korean: 똥발바쓰) and Tongbal (Korean: 똥발), and his nickname was Shimheon (심헌 審軒 or 심헌 心軒). His family is part of the Changnyeong Sung clan (창녕성씨 昌寧成氏).

Early life[edit]

Sung was born in Daegu on September 11, 1967. His father was wealthy, and his one uncle was a police officer in Daegu. During his youth, he developed masculinity and machismo.[5] Sung became hostile, and was repulsed by traditional masculine behavior. In adolescence he became convinced of the need for men's liberation: "I was so grown, but nowadays teenage and 20, 30s young men are not like that. They tell another if it hurts, 'I am sick', tell another if they're tired, 'I am tired'.[5]

At that time Sung became conscious of authority, developed a loathing for the patriarchal system and complained that South Korean society treated males cruelly. After graduating from Daegu High School, he began studying economics at Yeungnam University in 1985[6] and graduated in February 1993.

Young adulthood[edit]

In 1987, Sung joined the South Korean Army and served with the 3rd Infantry Division (육군 제3보병사단 陸軍第三步兵師團) in Cheolwon (Gangwon Province)[5] until 1990. He spent his early twenties as an insurance salesman, briefly managing his own business.[7] In 2006, he operated a night club in Daegu.[8] From August 26 to November 30 of that year, Sung worked for the Thomas McFly Consulting and Headhunting Company (토마스 맥플라이 컨설팅 & 헤드헌팅사) in the Eastern District of Daegu before resigning to continue his human-rights campaigns.

During the early 2000s, Sung joined the South Korean men's rights movement and campaigned for a variety of causes. On November 26, 2006 he founded the Association of Anti-Feminism for the Liberation of Men (Korean: 반페미니즘남성해방연대), and on January 4, 2007 he founded the Association for the Abolition of the Ministry of Women (Korean: 여성부폐지운동본부, 女性部廢止運動本部). In 2013, both groups had several thousand members.[9] Sung campaigned for the abolition of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in the 2002 and 2007 presidential elections, questioning its justification.[10] After the 2000s Sung emphasized personal values, individual rights and the right to privacy in his speeches, saying that personal values are God-given rights. He later led a campaign to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality.[11]

In August 1994 Sung married Park Eun-kyong, an internist and professor at the College of Medicine of Chung-ang University. They had two daughters.

Criticisms, including pornography control[edit]

In 1999 Sung opposed abolishing the South Korean military's bonus-points system (군 가산점;軍 加算點)[12] and military veterans' compensation, and supported the abolition of the South Korean female quota (여성 할당제;女性割當制) and female employment quota systems (여성고용할당제;女性雇傭割當制). From 2004 to January 2005, he unsuccessfully opposed the abolition of the Hoju system (호주제 戶主制). Sung advocated the resurrection of the South Korean military bonus-points system and the abolition of female quotas until his death.

Railing against what he saw as female chauvinism and Korean totalitarianism, he argued against reverse discrimination, said "Men are humans", objected to unilateral obligations and responsibilities imposed on Korean men and advocated men's liberation. According to Sung, "The oppressive measures on pornography by the Korean government are totally insane ... It is actually seen that it oppresses masculinity and that it distorts the essentials. It is all done by the Ministry of Gender Equality and women’s organizations led by Korean feminists."[13] He argued that the totalitarianism of a few female chauvinists excessively suppressed male sexuality, the arts, pop culture and freedom of expression and thought.

Comparing South Korean government policies to prohibition in the United States, Sung said that restricting pornography had undesirable side effects and labeled normal men as sex offenders. He encouraged self-examination to overcome sexual Puritanism: "You will understand easily if you know a bit about men’s sexual mechanism. Pornography itself can ease and satisfy men’s sexual impulses."[13] Long criticized for his beliefs, Sung called South Korean policy excessively moralistic and overprotective of women and some South Korean politicians unrealistic and incompetent.

Movement to protect military bonus points system[edit]

From August 1999 to 2001, Sung advocated the protection of the South Korean military's bonus-points system and had a small number of sympathizers. In October 2001 the system was found unconstitutional and repealed, with Sung advocating its reconstruction: "What is my duty? Do you know why Man of Korea started? Because in 1999 military bonus points were abolished! Because of the excuse of gender equality for threatening national security."[14]

Sung long argued for the "resuscitation of military bonus points",[15] reviving a reconstruction movement for the Korean military bonus-points system in 2011.[16] He participated in civil-rights and masculist activities,[17] leading a male-liberation movement. Sung requested compensation for his mandatory South Korean military service until his death.

Men's rights movements[edit]

Fathers' rights movement[edit]

From 2004 to January 2005 Sung supported the Hoju system, reasoning that the system supported the last rights of fathers. Feeling that the system had symbolic meaning for fathers and families, he argued with South Korean radical feminists on the Internet. The Hoju system was abolished in January 2005, and Sung advocated its revival until his death.

He long criticized the Ministry of Gender Equality. On December 12, 2012, Sung told presidential candidate Park Geun-hye that to "recover lost fathers' rights is the way for my family's happiness".[18]

Male protection[edit]

From 2008 until his death, Sung was protective of weak men and disadvantaged, gay and transgender people and advocated for the protection of male and young victims of domestic violence. He opened male-protection facilities,[19] the first on January 26, 2008 in Samsung-dong, Gangnam-gu.

Sung supported refuges in Samseong-dong in Gangnam-gu, Seokcheon-dong in Songpa-gu and Yeongdeungpo-dong in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul. He opposed racism and discrimination against minorities, male victims of crime, the weak and sexual minorities. Sung encouraged the recognition of homophobia, emphasizing that sexuality is personal,[20] and provided accommodations and job placement for homeless, unemployed young male runaways and gay and transgender people.[21] He opened the Man of Korea headquarters as a shelter on May 1, 2012.

Men's rights[edit]

On January 24, 2011, Sung opened a free facility in Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul for runaway husbands, young deported men, runaway teenage boys and homeless men. After a slow start, the facility took in an increasing number of people.[22]

Pornography advocacy[edit]

Sung opposed crackdowns on pornography[23] until his death, arguing that it reduced the number of sex crimes.[24] At a conference, he said that if women's attire does not cause sex crimes, neither does pornography.[25]

According to Sung, pornography was necessary for economically- and physically-unattractive men. At a November 12, 2011 debate entitled "How Should We Regulate Child Pornography?" hosted by Choi Min-hee of the Democratic United Party at the National Assembly building in Yeouido, Seoul,[26] Sung said: "Who are those crazy beings who oppose the protection of children and teens against sex crimes? ... The problem is the Burberry men [exhibitionists]. We should catch them, and not just make them not wear Burberry trench coats."[26] Sung became an overnight hero to male netizens for defending online pornography and masturbation as benign.[26]

During a public hearing of the National Assembly that day, Sung criticized the Ministry of Gender Equality: "For those people who don't even understand the mechanisms of the male sex, what Youth Sex Protection Law do you want? What law do you want to be made? ... Who are those crazy beings who oppose the protection of children and teens against sex crimes? Of course our priority is to protect kids and teens against sexual offenses. Have any of you watched porn before? Have you watched porn to masturbate? Yes or no? But let me ask you one thing: is your goal to protect children and teenager from sexual offences? or is it to suppress every man’s sexual desire and control his guilt?

Female exposure is not the cause of one’s sex drive, and is not the cause of sex offenses, and yet animated porn becomes the cause of a man’s sex crimes? Please stop making such bullshit claims! I don’t know about other men, but isn’t this nonsense? I too watch porn! And you know why?"[26] He said that pornography was "a means for a man to ease his sex drive, relieve himself, and excrete his load. So because porn amplifies a man’s sex drive, this makes him go outside, find a new victim and commit a new sex crime? Please stop romanticizing the whole thing!"[26] According to Sung, "Just 20 years ago, women would go to the pharmacy and hide their sanitary pads in newspaper and buy them as if they were drugs. But 20 years later, Korean women’s sanitary pads are in your face, and they even have a menstruation festival ... Had men not acknowledged and understood femininity, do you think this would have been possible?"[26]

Man of Korea[edit]

Founding[edit]

On January 26, 2008, Sung founded Man of Korea (Korean: 남성연대, 男性聯帶)[27] in Gangnam-gu, Seoul to promote men's rights, saying that men could be considered a minority in South Korean society. He publicly disparaged women and worked to abolish menstrual leave and other policies for working women.[28] Opponents said that Sung's work to support the rights of men was misplaced because South Korea is a male-dominated society.[28][29]

During the 2012 Korean presidential election Sung suggested abolishing the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family,[30] denying that women are a social minority and accusing Korean society of discriminating against men.[31] He controversially posted on his Twitter account, "Korean women, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Why are you making such a fuss about menstruating when the nation’s birthrate is the lowest in the world?"[31]

White Stockings Campaign[edit]

Sung mocked the White Tie Campaign organized by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, saying that the campaign supported prostitution (although he was said to have supported prostitution).[32] On November 28–29, 2011, Man of Korea launched their "White Stockings Campaign" in an email to members.

The email claimed that the campaign was supported by the ministry,[33] but the campaign lampooned the ministry’s support program for former prostitutes. Man of Korea claimed that under the ministry plan, former prostitutes would receive job training at support centers and the ministry would give them 410,000 per month and legal and medical services for up to three years.[33] Sung was criticized for his support of prostitution and said on November 30, "We wanted to show that the ministry’s support program for former prostitutes is not effective. The ministry spends about 11-12 billion won per year on the program. But such support is given to any women who claim they were prostitutes, and the ministry is unable to verify whether they were really engaged in the sex trade or not". His view that prostitutes were not victims contrasted with that of South Korean feminists, and he opposed treating female prostitution as a crime.[34]

Menstrual-leave criticism[edit]

Sung criticized South Korean menstrual leave as sexist, arguing that it was unnecessary for most women since it protected motherhood.[35] On October 3, 2012, he controversially posted on his Twitter account: "You [Korean women] should be ashamed of yourselves. Why are you making such a fuss about menstruating when the nation's birthrate is the lowest in the world?"[35][9] According to a January 2013 report by Alio, a website compiling management information in the public sector, 9.1 percent (272 out of 2,993) executive jobs in government departments and public firms were held by women and over half of the organizations had no female board members.[29]

Death[edit]

Preparation[edit]

In early July 2013, Sung's wife briefly left him.[36] On July 25, he declared himself a victim of reverse discrimination and announced his intention to commit suicide. Sung jumped from the Mapo Bridge into the Han River, leaving a note saying that he would risk his life to raise ₩100 million (about $94,000) in donations to pay debts owed by Man of Korea.[37]

He posted on the organization's website, "Dear citizens, I plan to jump off a bridge over the Han River. I hope you give us a last chance. Please lend us 100 million won which will be used for paying back debt and seed money of our organization".[38] Sung's announcement was met with indifference.[39] "Ridiculous. He is begging for money and he’s holding himself as a hostage",[39] read a post on the Man of Korea homepage. Another read, "Threat fund-raiser? That’s creative. Just jump off the bridge like you promised".[39] Sung later said that he did not intend to commit suicide, but wanted to draw attention to his group; he would jump, whether or not he received the money.[39] He posted on Twitter, "Why do you all assume that jumping off the bridge will kill me? I have complete confidence in my survival",[39] and later said: "Please regard my actions as 'trying to be less pathetic' while asking for money".[39] Some Man of Korea members and other supporters were concerned about the jump.[40]

Jump[edit]

Sung repeated his intention to survive the jump, saying that the bulgogi party scheduled for 7 pm in his office that day was still on. "That’s why I said I’ll jump BEFORE 7 o’clock. Let’s eat bulgogi", he said. Before Sung jumped off the bridge, he wrote "I'm confident that I can survive". He checked the depth of the water before he jumped, and arranged for a lifeguard to watch the jump. However, he acknowledged the risk: "If something goes wrong with me, the Secretary General will succeed me as the representative of the association. Please remember me even if my lame attempt fails."[3] He left a note:

Dear citizens, ever since the mid-1980s when gender-equality issues came into public awareness, our country has been focusing on overhauling laws, policies and social systems to improve women’s rights and status. We have our first female president. More women pass major government service exams than men. Female ROTCs command conscripted male soldiers. Women surpassed men in university entrance rates and youth employment rates years ago. Despite this, men are still seen as superior while women are seen are "socially weak".


Dear citizens, While everyone else was speaking on behalf of women, Man of Korea started to speak for men. We began our group online in January 2008, and launched a formal civic group in March 2011. We have been treading a thorny path filled with mockery and ridicule. When we said excessive privileges for women should be distributed to men too, we were called male chauvinists. When we said men and women should share equal expenses and we should create an environment where men can also be house husbands, we were called losers. In this country, where discussing male rights is considered to be cheap gossip for losers and you have to discuss national politics to be taken seriously, Man of Korea has been marginalized.

We would like to say that men can also be weak. We wanted to point out that if the gender you were born with determines your rights, privileges and duties, we will never achieve equality. We wanted to say that it is important to create a society where men and women stand on an equal footing and can understand and respect each other. We wanted to talk about the equality of every human beyond gender equality.[41]

On July 26, 2013, Sung took a taxi from Yeongdeungpo to Mapo District with Han Seung-oh, Lee Ji-hun and five other people. Although he was accompanied by two lifeguards, it had rained heavily that day and the day before. At 3:00 pm, Sung jumped from the Mapo Bridge.[42]

Rescue efforts began at about 3:20 pm, and a broad search of the Han River was conducted.[42] Although about 30 firefighters and a helicopter searched near the Mapo Bridge, he was not found by 9 pm Friday and the search was suspended for the night.[38][43] About 50 firefighters from the Yeongdeungpo Fire Station, one helicopter and three rescue boats continued the search Saturday and Sunday; six ambulances stood by.[11] In July 28, 2013.

Sung's body was found near the south end of the Seogang Bridge, connecting Yeouido to northern Seoul, on July 29.[44] He was barefoot, and his white shirt and dark-gray pants were what he was wearing when he jumped.[44] On August 1, Sung was cremated and his ashes buried in a crypt in the Gyongsan Park Cemetery (경산 공원 묘원) in Namchon (남천면), Gyeongsan, North Gyeongsang.[45] There was a reported month-long increase in copycat suicides in August 2013.[46]

Legacy[edit]

After Sung's funeral he was compared on the Internet to Jeon Tae-il, a 22-year-old factory employee who immolated himself in 1970 to protest working conditions. According to the Korea Times, the online grief and rage were misplaced.[47] Han Seung-oh, Sung's nominated successor and a founding member of Man of Korea, called Sung's jump a "risky stunt" to raise ₩100 million for the organization.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ '마포대교 투신' 남성연대 성재기 대표 누구? 머니투데이 2013.07.26 (in Korean)
  2. ^ 여성전용 흡연구역?… “남성 역차별 아니냐” 시끌 동아일보 2013.04.04 (in Korean)
  3. ^ a b Suicide performance and journalist ethics News Dongah
  4. ^ 'Avengers' add to Mapo Bridge's strange history Koreatimes 2014.03.30
  5. ^ a b c [전문공개] 남성연대 성재기를 만나다 The Ddanjinews
  6. ^ 여성가족부 상대 ‘가족’ 명칭 사용금지 가처분신청…남성연대 성재기 대표 The Dongah 2012.01.09 (in Korean)
  7. ^ “남성-가장 위한 정책은 없는데 가족部라뇨” 동아일보 2012.01.09 (in Korean)
  8. ^ 그는 제2의 ‘미시마 유키오’가 되고자 했나 The Hankyeorye 2013.08.02 (in Korean)
  9. ^ a b [예고 투신] 성재기 남성연대 대표, 그는 누구? etoday 2013.07.29 (in Korean)
  10. ^ TVN ‘쿨까당’으로 본 여성가족부 존치 논란 NSP통신 (in Korean)
  11. ^ a b c Activist missing for 3rd day koreatimes 2013.07.28
  12. ^ 성재기, 강용석 NLL 발언에 "욕 좀 하겠다" Newsone, July 5, 2013
  13. ^ a b [Voice] Should pornography be censored? Koreaharald 2012.12.17
  14. ^ 성재기, 강용석 NLL 발언에 욕설…'급 사과' SBS 2013.07.05 (in Korean)
  15. ^ 부채 떠안고 한강서 투신한 성재기, 그는 누구? 아주경제 2013.07.29 (in Korean)
  16. ^ ‘한강 투신’ 성재기는 누구? “여가부 폐지·군 가산점 부활” 운동 The Dongah 2013.07.29 (in Korean)
  17. ^ 성재기, 강용석 NLL 발언에 "XX놈아" 욕설 비난 '파장' The Chosun 2013.07.05 (in Korean)
  18. ^ [위클리 트윗] 12월 7일 ~ 12월 13일 한국일보 2012.12.13 (in Korean)
  19. ^ [예고 투신] 성재기 활동했던 ‘남성연대’는 어떤 단체? etoday 2013.07.29 (in Korean)
  20. ^ 남성연대 "故 성재기 뜻 여성혐오 아냐…무분별한 비하 자제하자" pressbyple 2013.08.02 (in Korean)
  21. ^ 그는 제2의 ‘미시마 유키오’가 되고자 했나 Hangyeorye 2013.08.02 (in Korean)
  22. ^ [더딴지]남성연대 성재기를 만나다
  23. ^ 성재기, '대통령시 정상회담 때 비키니' 낸시랭과 화해 Moneytoday 2012.12.05 (in Korean)
  24. ^ 아청법 논란, 성재기 대표 "나도 야동 본다" Asianews 2012.12.14 (in Korean)
  25. ^ 남성연대 대표 "모든 남자가 바바리맨이냐?" wikitree 2012.11.15 (in Korean)
  26. ^ a b c d e f Activist Says Porn Helps Men And is Unrelated to Crimes koreabang November 19, 2012
  27. ^ 디도스 공격 10대 알고 보니 남성연대 前 회원 주간동아(in Korean)
  28. ^ a b Controversial activist says will jump off bridge for cash The Korea Herald 2013.07.25
  29. ^ a b 성재기, 한강서 진짜 뛰어... 마지막으로 남긴 트윗이 코리아헤럴드 2013.07.26
  30. ^ 그는 왜 여성부 폐지에 '목숨'을 걸었나? The Moneytoday 2012.01.04 (in Korean)
  31. ^ a b Menstrual leave ― an entitlement men reject Koreatimes 2012.10.30
  32. ^ '성매매 안하면 현금 41만원 입금' 내막 들여다보니... The Moneytoday 2011.11.29 (in Korean)
  33. ^ a b Anti-sex buying campaign causes stir Korea times 2011.12.30
  34. ^ 성재기 "자발적 성매매 여성 처벌 위헌 제청은…" The Moneytoday 2013.01.10 (in Korean)
  35. ^ a b Menstrual leave - an entitlement men reject Koreatimes 2012.10.30
  36. ^ '한강 투신 예고' 성재기가 대표인 '남성연대'는 어떤 단체? Archived July 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. 한국경제 2013.07.25 (in Korean)
  37. ^ Han River rescue team struggles with increased suicide attempts The Hangyorye 2013.08.11
  38. ^ a b Activist's 'suicide' causes huge stir Koreatimes 2013.07.26
  39. ^ a b c d e f Controversial activist says will jump off bridge for cash The Korea Herald 2013.07.25
  40. ^ ‘한강투신’ 성재기 실종…남성연대 “7시 불고기 파티 취소” 동아일보 2013.07.26 (in Korean)
  41. ^ Male Rights Activist Dies in Publicity Stunt on Han River Bridge Koreabang August 1, 2013
  42. ^ a b Sung jae gi threw himself to Han river and missing MBC News, 27 July 2013 (in Korean)
  43. ^ Search For Male Rights Activist Resumes The Seoul TBS 2013.07.27
  44. ^ a b Body of male rights activist discovered koreatimes 2013.07.29
  45. ^ 남성연대 성재기 발인 "메시지 가슴에 새기겠다" Newsone 2013.08.01 (in Korean)
  46. ^ 베르테르 효과, 평균 600여명 모방 자살… 최진실 때는 1008명 급증 The Munhwa 2013.09.11 (in Korean)
  47. ^ Kim, Tong-hyung (August 6, 2013). "Nancy faked BBC invitation, Wonder Girl goes solo". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on May 31, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
founding
first Haeder of Korean male Association
November 26, 2006 – July 26, 2013
Succeeded by
Han Seoug-oh