The key to great style

Recently, I discovered the Man Repeller chatroom interview with Stacy London, a stylist/fashion consultant known primarily through her reality television program What Not to Wear. Before transitioning into being a stylist, London graduated from Vassar College as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In short, London started her career as a fashion editor at Vogue (#goals). London’s life seemed smoother than a morning avocado paleo smoothie until I read her book The Truth About Style.

The Truth About Style consists of ten case studies about the obstacles that hold women back from dressing in the best authentic way possible. The obstacles include fear of judgement and failure, but also, London includes a case study of a woman who suffered from an eating disorder.

London opens the book with a case study of herself; that’s when I first encountered her adversities.  London was diagnosed with psoriasis, a chronic skin disease that forms thick scales and itchy, red patches. Consequently, London’s been bullied in her teenaged years. Luckily, medication helped her to recover from psoriasis as she transitioned into adulthood. However, in short, London struggled with an eating disorder called anorexia. In her skinniest years, 5’7″ tall London only weighed ninety pounds. When she was accepted to Vogue, her colleagues suggested that she gain some weight, and London gradually became fleshy, and eventually, she became the fleshiest woman at Vogue.

During her overweight years, London felt extremely insecure about her body image. At Vogue, she tried hard to cover three assistants’ job as well as trying to be the class clown. Furthermore, London displaced her insecurities into defensive dressing. She tried to conceal her new body curve by wearing flannel shirts or big peasant skirts, without knowing what defensive dressing was actually doing.

The overweight era didn’t last for a long time. London came back to her normal size, and she’s healthier than ever. London dealing with weight fluctuation helps her to better understand what it is like for women to feel discouraged or depressed when trying to dress up in the best authentic way possible. Through the show What Not to Wear, London has definitely learned what most women were doing to conceal their flaws. It’s defensive dressing.

Now, London definitely empathizes with her clients in What Not to Wear, because she too tried to dress in a defensive way while working at Vogue. However, she brings up an interesting point in the Man Repeller chatroom interview. London says,”When people dress in an extreme way,  the message they want to convey is actually the message that’s being conveyed.”

Here is an example: I have a curvy body shape, and I feel insecure about my big butt, so I decide to wear a pair of boyfriend jeans with some long black t-shirt that completely conceals my butt. But it’s most likely that people will think “Wow, she hates her ass.”

And I certainly don’t want people to know that I have a big ass, right? According to London’s advice, I need to spend less time on trying to conceal my big butt. Instead, I need to be a little more self-aware of my long neck or slim waist so that I can highlight them with a signature v-line white top and a pair of high waisted jeans.Ultimately, London’s point is that self-awareness is key to great style. Knowing what fits right for your body type and picking/choosing from trends is important.

I want to end with an excerpt from the interview. These are London’s words:”The fashion industry is built on insecurity. They want to sell on the idea that we’re not good enough, but we can change that by taking a little bit of the autonomy and saying, “this is what works for me, for my body, for my shape, for my age, and for my style.

Humans of Minneapolis

From July 28th through July 31st, I attended the National Scholastic Press Association Summer Workshop at the University of Minnesota. Our first assignment was to create a photo gallery of Humans of Minneapolis. For an hour, my partner and I wandered around the campus to ask questions to random pedestrians. We ended up talking to two gopher students, a transplant nurse, and a high school sophomore from Southwest High School. I was so surprised because most of the people were willing to share their stories with me.

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“This shirt is for spirit squad cause I’m on the dance team. Everyone in the spirit squad, in the beginning of the year, when you make [it to] your team: the cheer team, the golden part of experience squad, the dance team, or the hockey cheer, you get a shirt that says ‘I am.’ On the back, it says ‘Minnesota,’ and then at the end of the year, it says, ‘We are (front)’ & Minnesota (back),’ because you start as an individual when you get on the team. And because it’s all these different little teams within the spirit squad, towards the end of the year, you really feel like you’re all one team. You’re not just golden part of experience, dance team, or the hockey cheer. You’re just all spirit squad. It’s ‘We are’ instead of ‘I am.'”
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“I slacked off a lot when I was young. I’d say [to my younger self] just be persistent and do whatever you love.”

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“I work with all the transplant surgeons. I take care of all the patients pre and post surgery. I came from medical ICU. In the ICU, the patients are integrated, so you don’t really get to talk to them. But now, outpatient stuff, you get to talk to your patients. You get to know about their life. Getting to know your patient is the best thing.”

 

The college admission stress

Voilà! SENIOR YEAR FINALLY ARRIVED! I can already feel the exhilaration on graduation day. But first, there’s a big dilemma I need to deal with: It’s the COLLEGE ADMISSION. Before I can actually celebrate anything, I first need to get accepted to a college (hopefully my first choice).

For a long time, I thought I would audition to get into a music conservatory in my senior year. But my options expanded when I moved to the U.S. Back in South Korea, by the time you enter high school, you need to declare your field of study, whether it’s the arts, humanities, athletics, natural sciences, applied mathematics, etc. Earlier on, in middle school, I decided to study classical voice. Hence, I attended an arts specialized middle school. The school curriculum primarily focused on training students to become professional dancers, artists, musicians. Though the school integrated academics to the program, they weren’t rigorous enough to compete against students from public schools in South Korea. If I truly wanted a liberal arts education, I needed to transfer.

Luckily, I moved to the U.S. in 2013. I was that one lucky girl whose parents afforded a private school tuition. But it wasn’t easy. Because I was immersed in a vocational education at the arts school, the liberal arts education at Blake was extremely difficult. In my first year, I would hide in the bathroom during a group activity to avoid interaction with my classmates. I thought I was a distraction because I couldn’t contribute anything to the assignment. And I was deeply frustrated with myself. Obviously,  I didn’t want to feel stupid, so I continued to work very hard to get to where I stand today.

When my english drastically improved after sophomore year, I realized how many options were open to me. I discovered new possibilities. I was very optimistic about the successes I achieved in my Physics course, student newspaper club, and even Computer Science (despite the poor grade I received for the course). While I explored the plethora of possibilities, junior year was approaching. And everyone started to ‘freak out’ about The College Admission.

Although my parents constantly remind their kids to do whatever they want in life, I also know that they would be satisfied with my achievements and accomplishments. I mean, what kind of parents would hate their kids from succeeding? After all, both of my parents pursued the elitist education throughout their lives. My mom went to the most prestigious women’s college in South Korea. My dad went to Columbia for graduate school. Furthermore, most of the relatives from my dad’s side attended prestigious colleges in the U.S. Therefore, legacy is definitely a factor that causes a lot of anxiety and fear when thinking about my college admission. I worry that I will become an embarrassment in the Lee family.

When I decided to quit music, both of my parents were initially disappointed and shocked. My mom started ranting about how much the family needed to sacrifice for my music education. My dad urged me to continue to excel in my music-related extracurricular activities, because I’m an outstanding performer; many colleges will like to see my excellence in the application. Although I was sorry, I didn’t feel like apologizing, because I did what felt right. If I’m not dedicating my effort and time on practicing new music scripts for my performance labs, there’s no reason to just swing by the music center without any preparation and excitement. I’ve never regretted my decision; quitting an insurmountable music-related activities became a great relief. Of course, it doesn’t imply that I hate music. I just don’t think I would live and die for music, and I know there are so many other subjects that I deeply care about; I will be able to power through my interests persistently. Ultimately, in college, I will be able to pursue multiple interests including music without any pressure to compete against other students.

I’m very fortunate to have survived the conflict with my parents. In reality, majority of my friends continue to take certain AP or Honors courses, to volunteer at five different organizations, and to play three varsity sports for the sake of getting into a ‘great’ college or to impress their family members. Early on, some kids already know that they want to become a brain surgeon or a lawyer, because those careers will buy them a golden ticket to high social status and wealth. In addition, this mindset continues to be the mainstream for many teenagers during the college search process. Some kids believe that X college will guarantee a Y job, because it’s a prestigious college that practically everyone knows. And I’m not going to lie. Until this summer, I heavily relied on the statistics during my college research. Particularly, I looked at the selectivity of the schools as well as class ranking, GPA, and standardized testing, because the popular belief is that intelligence can be measured by tests and letter grades. On the other hand, I internally disagreed with the common belief, because I was beyond creative, business-savvy, and mature, which are characteristics that schools can’t measure and indicate on my transcript.

During my college research, I felt extremely insecure, because neither did I have a high GPA nor did I have high standardized test scores. Yet, I wanted to get into certain type of colleges because they were reputable and highly selective. I continued to push myself without excitement to learn. I just wanted to know what content would be on a test so that I could get a good grade on this particular assessment; I would ask teachers if a particular discussion is graded; I skipped a lot of social events, club gatherings, and lunch time to spend more time on studying. As a result, I dealt with frequent mood swings and irritability. And I completely broke down for an year. My grades weren’t improving; I didn’t have the motivation to even wake up in the morning because going to school made me feel miserable. With the help of medication and counseling, I’ve recovered a lot from depression. But it’s something that still makes me feel vulnerable.

Entering this summer, I’ve came to the realization that it’s not worth stressing about grades and test scores to get into a college based on its statistics. Instead, I want to belong to a community where I can thrive without feeling depressed. I want to genuinely learn in a cooperative environment, and I don’t want to step on my friends’ toes to overachieve in every single area. I’ve found incredible liberal arts colleges in the west coast and east coast that not a lot of my family members know about. But it’s okay, because the college experience is suppose to be personal. It’s for me. Not for anyone else.

I’m absolutely content with my college list. And I have a reason why I would want to attend all ten schools; I can definitely envision myself in their facilities. I still have a lot of preparation to do. There’s kids who’ve already finished all of their standardized testing; there’s kids who’ve already begun the college application essays. Honestly, I think I’ve fallen into self-deprecation these days. Nevertheless, I’m going to try to restore an optimistic mindset, and I’m just going to consistently work hard on my own agenda. But it’s definitely not for the college. It’s going to be for my self-growth. And Hopefully, the colleges will accept me for who I am; if they like my character, they will select me. If not, that’s okay. I’m just going to try harder to be my authentic self, and I’m going to manipulate them to like who I am.

 

Anthem for Doomed Youth

 

The poem Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen resonates with me this week. Followed by the Orlando,FL Nightclub shooting, two mishaps occurred in St.Paul,MN and Dallas,TX. I am writing on behalf of the Asian community; I am writing on behalf of the #BlackLivesMatter movement; I am writing on behalf of world peace. Though some may argue that it’s unjustifiable for a Korean immigrant to speak for the African American community, it’s important for me to let out/articulate the frustrations I’ve felt over the past few years as a representative of the minority population in the U.S., as an Asian immigrant, and as an ally of African American friends. Luckily, I’ve never experienced direct racism, but I’ve experienced micro-aggressions in public. Some examples include: “Do you eat cats and dogs?”, “What do you think about communism?”, “One day, I really want to visit North Korea.”, “Your pronunciations are odd.”, “Oh, I love Asian cuisine, especially sushi.”, “I can’t read Chinese.”, “You’re not very Asian.”, “When are you going back to Korea?”, etc.
Perhaps, I’m a sensitive person who thinks the comments are very racist. After all, the president of the United States of America is Black; my younger sibling made it to the front cover of Edina public school district’s pamphlet; the number of Hispanics enrolled in college has tripled since 1993, right? Because media often portrays American society as being inclusive, many americans are desensitized to racism. In addition, some people refuse to acknowledge the presence of racism. And I think that’s a big problem.
Take the Young Scholar Program as an example. According to the Sun Current News in 2013, the Edina public school district established the Young Scholar Program to prepare elementary students who are in a historically underrepresented population for advanced coursework. When my nine-year old sibling successfully enrolled in the program, I was really happy for her; I thought the school was doing a great job to eradicate the achievement gap in Edina public schools until I read the Sun Current’s report from 2013. In the report, it indicates that twenty-four percent of students in Young Scholars have qualified for the district’s gifted education services. Why just the twenty-four percent of students? Why can’t all Young Scholars be qualified for the district’s gifted education services? What happens if my sister is in a disadvantage to be qualified? This may sound very pessimistic; however, I started to dislike the fact that the school was separating smart minority kids from the rest of their classmates. It is worth questioning whether if the program is supporting the kids to feel more equitable.
In January, I heard a remarkable senior speech that rang a bell in my heart. This admirable female student explained why everyone should support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. In her closing statement, she stated,
When I say #BlackLivesMatter, I think of my future and how I won’t be able to get a certain job because my skin is darker than his. I think of my future kids and how I want to apologize to them at advance, because nurturing your child, having them ripped based on their looks is something that I cannot bear the thought of. I encourage you to push for that change and stand in solidarity with me. You don’t need to protest actively everyday. Doing little things such as recognizing privilege and calling out the racism you see is a great step. Hopefully, in about ten years, when we are planning our families, I don’t have to second guess myself in fear of losing them.
Now, her speech is a perfect example of how a smart female student who graduated from one of the most prestigious college preparatory schools in the U.S. even feels threatened under the system we live in. So, yes, racism is real. And I’m thankful that I’ve only experienced micro-aggression but also I’m devastated that there’s going to be another minority kid in this country tonight who will be scared to even call the police in a life-threatening situation, because the kid doesn’t want to be misinterpreted by anyone because of his/her/their skin color.
There’s just so much hatred, disgust, pain in America right now. Ultimately, when the Dallas shooting incident occurred, even though I couldn’t completely sympathize with the sniper’s sentiment, it became clear that hate against a particular group will result in a backlash. We cannot let terrorism dictate our society because no one deserves to fall into hopelessness. During a crisis, it’s so easy to think about ways to run away from reality, so in certain cases, some people even decide to leave their home. Whenever we’re under a sensation of fear, it’s important to remember to think of ways to combat the fear, instead of trying to run away even before it has directly affected you. Don’t surrender before it’s even started.
I came to the realization that I often reference Leandra Medine; I’m just going to do that again. In her earlier episodes of Monocycle, she talked about the importance of kindness when caught in tough situations. According to Medine,
Kindness reinstalls faith in our weakness; kindness is a necessity in life because we need humanity in order to survive; kindness elicits fearlessness in us.
I want to challenge everyone of you to practice the following things starting this new week: recognize your privilege, call out the racism you see, and be fucking kind, because no one wants to be endangered. I pray once again for justice and peace in the cold-blooded massacre.

Let’s stop procrastinating

 

I cannot believe that the last time I made a post was a month ago. While I’ve put off managing my blog, I’ve been enjoying my time at Rock the garden, Northern Spark, the Stone Arch Bridge festival, and so on. Of course, I’ve also done college visits, read summer novels, and exercised. But, somehow, I was feeling unproductive. Every night, I would look at my planner; I always ended up not finishing my major tasks. Instead, I was focused on completing the trivial tasks that could be done in a timely fashion.

I started questioning why I was doing this to myself. I didn’t feel good about my decisions, but I also wasn’t pushing myself to feel productive again. One Friday afternoon, I listened to Leandra Medine’s podcast: Monocycle; Medine was dealing with a dilemma, an addiction to the comfort zone. This is something that I’ve been thinking a lot lately, because I’m definitely addicted to my comfort zone. For example, I wouldn’t even start on important tasks such as doing chores and studying for an exam, because they’re boring and time-consuming. Instead, I always haunted down for the “easy and fun.”

Perhaps, you’re also caught in your comfort zone, and it allows you to breathe in a whole new level. However, the relaxation is temporary and unhealthy; it’s critical that we question ourselves “what is stopping me from feeling excited about what I’m about to do,” as Medine explains in Monocycle.

As I spoke earlier on about prioritizing the “easy and fun,”a procrastinator is always in search for distraction. For instance, I have an upcoming ACT on September 10th. There’s still plenty of time until the exam, but I know the September scores are really important, so I decided to start studying earlier. But I also want to have some fun before mid August. So, I decide to do all the following in July: study for the ACT, go on a trip, watch the fireworks on independence day, etc. Without thinking about the budget and time constraints, I’m just overwhelming both the mind and the body. After a conflict with my mother on Monday, I kept asking myself if I was truly spending my summer wisely.

My mother is  frustrated at me because she thinks that the summer before senior year is important; therefore, it’s logical to spend my time wisely by exercising, studying, and volunteering. But my mother claims that I’ve been absolutely self-indulgent. She reminded me of the consequences of not working hard when the opportunity is given. I thought my mother’s criticism on my self-indulgence was unarguably accurate. After wiping off tears on my cheek, I asked myself if it was morally right to prioritize leisure activities, when I will be dealing with college admissions in a couple months.

I recalled my memory to the beginning of June when I was full of ambition and positivity towards a productive summer. I’ve set self-growth as my goal; it provided a clear purpose why I needed to complete iffy tasks. I organized a to-do list to tackle tasks in small chunks of time. Without a doubt, I shortly jumped right into the tasks such as writing a post for my blog and finishing one ACT reading section on my workbook.

Last Saturday, I watched a ted talk by Tim Urban entitled Inside the mind of a master procrastinatorIn the talk, Urban compares the anatomy of a procrastinator’s brain versus a non-procrastinator’s brain. When examined the anatomy of a procrastinator’s brain, Urban found an instant gratification monkey and a rational-decision maker. While the instant gratification monkey frequently takes over the wheel to arrive at the dark playground, where leisure activities happen when they’re not suppose to happen, the panic monster occasionally visits the procrastinator’s brain to alert both the monkey and the decision maker. The panic monster is referred to “deadlines,” which implements an unbelievable work ethic to pull all-nighters to write up a twenty-page essay so that a procrastinator can avoid public embarrassment at work or grade fluctuation in school. However, according to Urban, all humans become a procrastinator when there aren’t deadlines because nothing’s really happening until they’ve done the hard work to get things going.

Now, you may wonder why I started talking about Tim Urban’s ted talk all of a sudden. Here is my give away: Humans have the capacity of seeing the big picture and making long-term plans, which no other animals can do, because whether you’re a procrastinator or a non-procrastinator, your brain retains a rational-decision maker, as stated in Urban’s ted talk. While all humans are procrastinators without deadlines, according to Urban, I was able to do productive things in  June without specific deadlines because the rational-decision maker in my brain was functioning to help me vision a better future and long-term happiness. Therefore, even though all of us are procrastinating on something in our lives, it’s important to stay away from the instant gratification monkey to combat procrastination. So, set an intention to your work; start working on it today.

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainable fashion stops sex-trafficking in Minneapolis

On June 2nd, I attended The Clothing Collective fundraiser event at Aria Minneapolis. The Clothing Collective started as a simple conversation among few friends that turned into a massive shopping event where guests can shop donated clothes, bid on designer pieces, listen to live music, enjoy small bites and drinks, and help give victims of sex-trafficking a voice.

While browsing the website, I found a video from the director of The Clothing Collective. One of the collaborators talked about how majority of the people residing in the U.S. aren’t directly affected by sex-trafficking. However, it is a huge issue in the world today because over 15,000 girls are trafficked in the sex trade, according to Wipe Every Tear , an organization working directly with women trafficked in the sex trade to provide safe housing and quality education for them.

Though the collaborators bold statement may not be entirely accurate, I was able to relate to his statement. Growing up under a roof of successful parents with love and care, I never faced moments in my life where I had to sacrifice my body to earn money to pay off my tuition or to buy myself a meal. It’s truly heartbreaking to acknowledge that precious girls in Southeast Asia are trapped in the sex-trafficking industry, and it’s impossible to seek refuge and help outside of the industry they belong to.

However, the fundraiser event sponsored by The Clothing Collective seemed like an opportunity which allows the local community to make a positive impact on the world. In order to combat sex-trafficking, you don’t necessarily need to travel all the way to the Philippines. Instead, you can attend an accessible one-day event in your local area for the growth and security of the Philippines women. Furthermore, The Clothing Collective fundraiser event focused on giving sustainability a new meaning by having re-purposed, donated clothing on sale, with all the proceeds going towards Wipe Every Tear.

Sustainable fashion is something that I’ve been looking into recently. According to an editor emeritus of Spectrum, ranked as the second largest producer of waste in the world, the fashion industry contributes to global warming. And frequently consuming new merchandise can be extremely detrimental for the environment. Nevertheless, thrift shopping, a sustainable way to recycle old clothing, can become an economic and stylistic alternative for many people. In fact, I’ve been consigning my old clothes to several stores such as Clothes Mentor and Turn Style  to earn money or exchange my items with their items, and I’ve saved a significant amount of money for the last 6 months.

When my friend and I purchased an item at the fundraiser, we felt really good about changing the life story of victims in the sex-trafficking industry, but also, we felt good about our decision to buy second-hand clothing over new clothing to resolve environmental issues.

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The main entrance to the fundraiser event.
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Bella Goose Coffee from Wisconsin Dells partnered with The Clothing Collective to show their support for women in the Philippines.
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Major who traveled to the Philippines through a ministry program in February works closely with Wipe Every Tear.
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Britney who also traveled with her husband Major joined the fundraiser crew as a representative for Wipe Every Tear. Britney also worked as a volunteer facilitator of The Clothing Collective.
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A local jewelry brand greeting customers.
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The social scene at The Clothing Collective fundraiser in Aria Minneapolis.

I met a couple, Major and Stephanie, who traveled to 11 countries for 11 months through the organization World Race to serve with different ministries along the trip.

Major explained that during the trip, the World Race runners went to the Philippines where runners teamed up with Wipe Every Tear. Major says, “One thing I wanted to do [when I left for the World Race] was sex-trafficking ministry.” Major vividly remembers the day when he walked into a bar where they were selling women to foreigners. Someone would “point a laser at a lady to come out to the stage; we would ask her if this is what she wants to be doing,” says Major. Runners suggest a way out of  a woman’s tragic life story. Major adds, “There’s all kinds of freedom at their finger tips, if they want it.. paying for school, housing, food, medicare etc.” After the trip to the bar, runners brought 17 girls from the bar to the hope house. According to Major, there are five locations in the Philippines and one location in Thailand. And in the Philippines, one of their hope house is dedicated to the Ladyboys known as transgender women, which is a huge segment of the sex trade population in the Philippines.

Although the month in the Philippines was the most intense month during the trip, Major describes the ministry as “rewarding.” Through the ministry experience, Major has gained a new perspective of the world. Major adds, “Whether you want to or not, all of the ideas you have about your life don’t seem to matter after that. You realize life is a picture bigger than your own.”

Britney who traveled with Major thinks that her trip to the Philippines has changed everything. Britney says, “The sex-trafficking industry topic can be so broad. But once you experience it in affect to you, and you’re doing vulnerable things, walking into bars where girls are working, to offer them a new life, that changes everything.” Britney describes the ministry as a “ticket to freedom” for these women. Britney adds that one should support Wipe Every Tear because “you’re giving tangible freedom and a complete new life in restoration to girls. And it’s a magic to watch what we as humans can do to help others.”

The Clothing Collective fundraiser event inspired me to think of a community service project I may be able to collaborate with a couple different service clubs at my school. Last year, I was involved in the Community Service Board. I was actively involved in the club during first semester, and I tried really hard to attend every single meeting. However, when school got busier towards second semester, I wasn’t able to attend most of the meetings, and I wasn’t thinking so much about my participation as a representative of the club.

During my time as a representative of the Community Service Board, I participated in traditional service projects where groups of people would arrange a bake sale to raise money for the Crisis Nursery or collect books for the KIPP Stand Academy to close the education gap. Although all the service projects were very meaningful, the lack of creativity and entertainment of the projects made it harder for me to advertise/promote the projects to other students.

After attending the fundraiser event, I thought it would be an unique idea to incorporate fashion in service. And I was planning to talk to an adviser about arranging a flea market to raise funds for two clubs: Girl up and She’s the first. Both clubs primarily focus on raising awareness of the issues that confront adolescent girls in third world countries. In addition, She’s the first helps specific girls or specific schools to help advance the education possibilities and available career opportunities open to women.

In the flea market, I will ask the community to donate gently used clothes or even new clothes with a tag that’s napping in their drawer. Volunteers and I will be reselling the clothes in a slightly reduced price to the faculty and students. All the proceeds will go to funding Girl up and She’s the first. There’s still three months left until school starts, but I’m glad that the fundraiser event regenerated my interest in service, and I’m excited to utilize my creativity and sense of style in the project.

 

 

 

Gender-based violence in South Korea

Renowned for its excellence in education and cultural diversity, Gangnam has been reputed as a vibrant and welcoming environment for many tourists and for the locals. However, this prestigious district of Seoul has become a fearful place for young women after a 34-year old man slew a woman at a restroom in a corridor of a building near the subway station. After the suspect was arrested, he told the police that he chose to victimize women because he had felt “ignored and belittled” by women throughout life, according to the LA times .

While the slaying drew an emotional response from young South Korean women, it also triggered a heated debate on misogyny and mental illness in South Korea, according to the Korean Herald. When the police reported the suspect’s record of being hospitalized for mental health problems including schizophrenia, they claimed that the murder case shouldn’t be perceived as a misogynistic crime due to the suspect’s mental illness. While the polices’ response towards the murder case provoked a lot of frustrations for South Korean citizens, there were opponents who felt empathized with the male suspect.

Currently, a memorial site is held in the exits of Gangnam station. And on May 21st, the LA times reported that a group of “men’s rights” activists came to protest at the memorial site. Their counterargument was that men’s lives are in danger than women’s in South Korea due to their required military service. On the other hand, a group of men came out to the memorial site to show support for women’s rights. They held a placard that read, “Women lives matter.”

The murder case remains as an unresolved problem in South Korea. Just few days ago, a 61-year old man was suspected of murdering a 63-year old woman near the entrance of the Mount Suraksan trail on northeastern Seoul. The suspect replied to the press, “I have nothing to say. I don’t know why I killed her.” Later on, he revealed that he killed the woman to steal her money to buy himself a meal. According to the Korean Herald, police are looking into his criminal motive and checking his medical records for signs of mental illness.

It’s very troubling to me that the polices are making the connection between violence and mental illness because it’s easy to disregard the criminals’ behavior and other important factors that caused the crime. Furthermore, when the police declared that the Gangnam murder case shouldn’t be perceived as a misogynistic crime due to the suspect’s schizophrenia, I thought that the argument was contradicting because “mental illness doesn’t make a person a misogynist,” as a 29-year old American teacher living abroad in South Korea summarizes in the Korean Herald article.

Blaming on mental illness to cover an incident that took an innocent female’s life cannot be justified. As a South Korean girl residing in the U.S., I’m not only disappointed with suspects who committed the crimes, but I’m really angry at the public’s behavior. I cannot understand why some people aren’t able to look at the tragedy with a rational mindset and acknowledge that systematic sexism exists in South Korea.

The culture that allows gender-based discrimination to hail in South Korea must be eradicated. Based on a research on the level of gender equality in 2015, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family  reported the Gender Gap Index in South Korea. Out of 145 nations, South Korea ranked 115th.

When Korean Herald interviewed Lee Soo-yeon, a researcher from the Korean Women’s Development Institute, Lee noted how the patriarchal values still prevails in South Korea. Lee says, “there’s a clash between the old patriarchal ideology and the changed status of women.”

Although my parents are know to be more “westernized” compared to my fellow South Koreans’ parents, there’s still some patriarchal values that remain in the household. Some generalizations like “women are weak” or “women should be protected by men” are common values that both of my parents share.

When I told my parents that I don’t want to get married, they took it very lightly. However, as I gradually grew up, they are seriously worried that I will not get married, although I still want to live as a single woman in the future.

And I know for a fact that it’s not just South Korea who’s struggling to break out of the patriarchal values that are so ingrained in society. Women all over the world, including the U.S., are having difficulty voicing their opinions or advocating for themselves because they fear the cynical judgements that are being made from the public. In fact, the Atlantic in May 2014 published an article on the confidence gap to prove that women are still less self-assured than men.

In the end, I want all women, especially South Korean women to feel safe and confident without the fear of judgement and hazing from the public. Women don’t deserve to be attacked either verbally or physically by men.

As an advanced country, South Korea isn’t very progressive in terms of advocating for women’s rights. It’s ironic because the president of South Korea Park Geun-hye is a woman too. The conversation regarding gender disparity and gender-based violence doesn’t end after the two murder cases occurred in May. We need to continue to have conversations around these topics to raise awareness so that women can always feel safe.