Received Prime Minister’s Commendation for elevating women’s status
25 years of Women News’ history marks a special place in the history of Korean media. Women News was born as “the only women newspaper in Korea” to speak for women in 1988, when women’s movement was first ignited thanks to the flaming democratization movement. With such sense of calling, Women News has been waging women’s movement through the papers and initiating bold new attempts in order to shift social paradigm and eradicate entrenched prejudice and male-oriented social conventions, thereby, ultimately bringing about a society where all men and women are equal.
Discovering issues through “women’s eyes” in politics, economy, and every corner of the society
Women News discovered new issues through “women’s eyes” in politics, economy, education, and every corner of the society, raised questions on those issues, and cooperated with the women’s rights advocacy groups, all of which led to remarkable achievements such as the abolishment of hoju system, enforcement of women quota system, establishment of women’s ministry, and legislation of women’s rights laws related to domestic violence, sexual violence, and sex trafficking. In the early years, Women News challenged the social norm of sexual violence through a series of articles that covered: a case in which a housewife living in Andong was accused as an assailant just because she bit the tongue of an actual offender who attempted to rape her (1988); the case of Kim Bu-nam who murdered the rapist from her childhood (1991); the case of Kim Bo-eun and Kim Jin-gwan who argued that murdering a rapist stepfather should be regarded as self-defense (1992); and the case of a teaching assistant at the Seoul National University named Woo Hee-jeong, bringing the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace to light (1993). It also called for public attention to female elderly whose rights were neglected after they get a divorce late in their lives by running a report on the case of a woman in her 70s whose divorce suit was dropped although she was desperate enough to say, “I want a divorce even if I die tomorrow.” Women News also supported custody of unwed mothers by tracking and reporting 7-month-long protest of Jin Hyeon-sook who sought to have her daughter back. Moreover, its report on a mentally-retarded girl who was gang raped by 7 men in the neighborhood (2000) started public discussion on sexual assaults against disabled women, an issue even disabled rights advocacy groups were reluctant to confront.
Meanwhile, since the beginning of its foundation, Women News has persistently suggested and called for legislation of public childcare, recognition of the value in women’s house works, abolition of beauty pageants, equal work distribution between men and women during major Korean holidays, and equality of married couples. It played a central role in new discourses, openly and bluntly discussing such sensitive issues as marital rape (1989), sexual violence by progressive activists (2000), reevaluation of a “female” politician, Park Geun-hye (2002), discourse on female president (2007), and alpha girl illusion (2007). These accomplishments enabled Women News to receive Prime Minister’s Commendation in July 1998 for its contribution to the empowerment of women.
Women’s movement in paper… Building upon its founding vision through various offline events
The various offline events held by Women News are closely related to its founding vision. Specifically, it has coordinated “Presidential Candidates’ Forum on Women’s Policy” (jointly hosted by women groups ∙ broadcasted live) since the 1997 presidential election, selected a “GenderMic (spokesperson for gender equality selected by Women News)” among lawmakers (2011), and launched “Gender Democracy Forum” (2012), all of which were a part of its effort to institutionally realize a society that embraces gender equality. In addition to organizing Open Concert (1991), Women Marathon (Marathon for Mrs.∙2001) and photo exhibition on gender equality (2005), Women News created Women Literary Award (1989), Equality Media Award (2000), and Woman of the Year in Culture Award (2008). Moreover, by launching WIN Culture Forum (2012) and staging a mentoring talk concert “Sinnaneun Eonnideul” (2012), Women News aimed at both linking culture with women and gender mainstreaming.
Women News’ search for female role models, which began in earnest after creating 'The Future Women Leader's Award' (2001), resulted in a list of “10,000 Women Leaders of Korea” in 2003, the year marking the 15th anniversary of the foundation of Women News. It has also been selecting “Woman of the Year” since 2006 for those with meaningful achievements.
Women’s movement in Korea overcame a key obstacle as the hoju system was permanently abolished following the approval of the bill on its repeal during the plenary session of the National Assembly in March, 2005. However, this “incident” cannot be interpreted as a resolution of a major women’s rights issue. Starting with the abolishment, Women News is placing stronger focus on the gender inequality issues, particularly those that have penetrated deeply into the daily lives of women. To this end, Women News will continue to meticulously and passionately shed light on the issues present in the lives of women across the world, both at home and abroad.