The discourse of neoliberalism is so popular in Korean academic circles that in some sense all emerging problems are attributed to neoliberalism. At the same time,misogyny is so prevalent in Korea, especially through SNS, that it is regarded as a kind of gender war and a social and cultural violence against women.The hatred of women pivots on the basic idea that men are suffering from having to take care of women and the family, and that women are selfish, materialistic, and treat men as if they are a source of bottomless funds. Neoliberal restructuring policies are very closely related to the hatred of women. In everyday discourses, critical questions regarding neoliberal policies are replaced with the claim that women demonstrate a lack of responsibility for harmonious gender relations, family and social reproduction, and are therefore ‘selfish.’ Young men fear and are anxious about their future in a competitive market driven society and this is conveniently redirected and represented as distress stemming from issues of dating, marriage and sexuality; men are represented as being emotionally hurt. On the other hand, women are regarded as empowered through female friendly social support systems represented by the establishment of the Ministry of Gender Equality as well as the feminist movements of the 90s. But in fact, during the turn of the 21st century, women in Korean society faced contradictory conditions in which women-friendly laws and policies were legislated during the 90s while neoliberal economic policies, hand in hand with restructuring government and social institutions, marginalized women within the economic market and the state apparatus. During the 2010s, market value and class became discursive keywords in order to explain someone’s identity and potential. According to the labor market, the female gender is the less valued commodity. Within this kind of sociocultural context, this workshop invites four researchers who are exploring issues of gender and sexuality within and trans- South Korea. In the face of the saturation and loosening of the term neoliberalism, these four scholars will deal with how the notion of gender and sexuality is situated within and trans- Korean society, how scholars can problematize the neoliberal context of Korean society, and how to change the way in which questions are framed for and by the neoliberal market.
"Affective Baggage and Self-Suspension in Contemporary South Korea"
Jesook Song, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto
"Curing Virginity: Disabled Sexuality and the Humanitarian Appeal"
Eunjung Kim, Assistant Professor, Women's and Gender Studies, Syracuse University
"My Skill: Precarious Attachments and Narratives of Korean Garment Workers"
Seo Young Park, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Scripps College
"The Work of Waiting: Love and Money in Korean Chinese Transnational Migration"
June Hee Kwon, Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Studies, New York University