South Korea Labor Ministry: Ladies, Be Chill About Sexual Harassment


South Korea’s Labor Ministry has come under heavy fire after basically advising women seeking employment to explicitly state in job interviews that they are totally cool with sexist jokes in the workplace. And that they had zero plans of getting married. Oh, and that they would be more than happy to make coffee if anyone wanted!

In the post, as reported by Korea Herald, the ministry offered “ideal answers” to questions posed in a job interview, advising that if asked about sexual harassment in the workplace, women should say:

“I wouldn’t mind casual jokes about sex and it is sometimes necessary to deal with (sexual harassment) by making a joke in return…”

On her potential marriage plans (because that’s not a loaded question for an employer to ask in an interview):

“I have no interest in getting married for a while,” even if she has plans, because “it is common for (many) female workers to quit their jobs after getting married.”

On trivial office work like making coffee and photocopying:

“I will do my very best even if it is just making a single cup of coffee,” if asked about their thoughts on trivial office work, such as making coffee and photocopying.

On “child bearing plans” (again with the loaded questions):

The guidelines also suggested telling the potential employer that “although I have a responsibility as a woman to raise a child, I am more than willing to continue working (after having a baby) if the company recognizes (my abilities).”

This seems far too ridiculous to be true—like vaudevillian bad guy-style ridiculous—but since some pissed off women’s groups brought the guidelines to light, Korea Times has issued a statement on the matter:

We are at a loss for words how a government agency, which should take the lead in eliminating sexual harassment and discrimination at workplaces, could offer such obviously sexist guidelines as these. By doing so, the ministry is overlooking or even encouraging such behavior by women employees’ male superiors or colleagues.

A ministry spokesman has stated that after some initial investigation, the “incident seems to have resulted from some KEIS employees conveying content provided by private agencies.”

I’m sure. Although the number of men and women with university degrees in South Korea are about the same, the country has abysmal female employment rates. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked South Korea last in employment of female college graduates. When the government itself is telling women to simply accept sexual harassment and to endure menial tasks they are definitely overqualified for, it’s not all that surprising.

Image via Getty.

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