- What is your position on professor K's libel suit?
"All I did was answer questions asked about the case according to what I know. How else is a sociology professor teaching Women's Studies supposed to act when she hears that her students are victims of sexual violence? Furthermore, I was not even officially representing the victim, so by suing me, he is demanding silence from everybody. This is just another form of violence to shut the victim up."
- Professor K took issue with the fact that you mentioned the incident when the police had already cleared his name.
"I am aware that the police did not investigate the case properly and released him after hearing only his side of the story. But the university authorities had already acknowledged the crime and dismissed him, so is he going to sue the university for slander as well? The Ministry of Education also acknowledged that sexual harassment took place. Is he going to call that an abuse of public power? The case is no longer a matter of distinguishing truth from falsehood. In fact, few people believe that there was no sexual harassment. What's important is to uncover the mechanism of power that tried to hush up the case."
- What exactly do you mean by the mechanism of power that tries to hush up sexual violence?
"It is because the victim was a Japanese student that we were able to come this far. If it was a Korean student, the case could have really been hushed up. The case was widely publicized through the Internet, and that is probably why the university decided on disciplinary measures. This kind of case usually takes a couple of years. By then, the students involved either graduate or become sick and tired of fighting. The Disciplinary Review Committee of the Ministry of Education decided to reinstate professor K even though it acknowledged his crime, saying that 'dismissal is too harsh a punishment.' The disciplinary committee's excuse for lightening the punishment is that the committee exists for the sake of professors. Then why does it sack professors involved in the labor movement while condoning professors who commit sexual violence? Furthermore, the police and prosecution cleared up the case without going through proper investigations. And the professor actually sued the victim and me for slander. This case is an important case that shows how male-oriented our society's institutional power truly is."
- How do you feel about other professors signing the petition to save professor K?
"It is a form of clique culture. Some 200 professors, most of them so disinterested in other issues, signed the petition! Those with some conscience left have publicly announced their intentions to withdraw. This is an act of courage. I don't think that even the professors who did sign believe that there was no sexual harassment. They probably feel that even so, dismissal is too harsh a punishment. I wonder how they feel now that professor K has actually sued the victim for malicious prosecution."
- Hasn't the discourse on sexual violence become widespread on campus these days?
"There's a lot of talk about sexual violence and sexual discourse, but when an incident actually occurs, the essence of the case is ignored and it all becomes a political game. How is it possible that the perpetrator of sexual violence gets away with it? It's because in this place we call the center for reproducing knowledge, those in power are all men who regard students as just 'components.' The term 'teacher's authority' suddenly emerged during the case. A teacher's authority exists to guarantee freedom of learning and thought, not to pardon criminal acts. If you believe that a public official taking bribes is a serious crime, the same goes for a professor who sexually harasses his student. How can you sympathize with the guilty professor while ignoring the suffering of the student? What will become of society if we this is allowed? The society of professors needs to reflect on its attitude towards sexual violence."
- The past two years must have been an ordeal for you. What did you find most insufferable?
"Frankly, I think that if I were faint-hearted, I would have gone mad long ago from the harassment. I was threatened, sternly warned to be careful… What I found most unbearable was 'keeping silent.' Until now, there was nothing I could do. I was shocked and furious that the professor sued me, but on the other hand, I think it's better this way. Before, I wasn't in a position to follow the case closely, but now I have legitimate reasons to take aggressive action. I am old enough, I have a family supporting me, I have my position as a professor, and I am able to hire an attorney, so in a way, it's only appropriate that I take up the case."
- Speaking from your experience of this case, do you have anything you wish to say to women?
"It was a time of self-reflection and soul searching. In all honesty, feminists with established positions within the institution have had an easy and uneventful time. Until now, we have depended on cases and theories happening overseas when talking about women's rights. But now, I am directly involved in and victimized by a case happening right here. I can probably write several theses on this case alone. I regard the situation I'm in as an 'observatory' that enables us to take a close look at the male-dominated institutional power of Korean society. I want to say that all women including women's studies experts and feminists should not avoid problems in whatever position they are but meet the problems head on and try to solve them."