Feminism as a political movement has rapidly gained ground worldwide, with more and more people asking for the socioeconomic and political equality of all genders across societies. While backlash to this movement is not rare in other countries, in South Korea, its meaning has become distorted enough to be synonymous with misandry. This fierce pushback mostly comes from online communities that are specifically male-dominated and have a real-life influence on the country’s temperament on the issue.
The world of K-Pop is heavily policed, and fans are well aware of how idols have to walk many a thin line to ensure they stay on the favorable side of the public. This often means that they keep even the most foundational level of social or political opinions out of the public eye, and feminism is no exception.
Idols like Irene from Red Velvet and BTS’s RM have faced backlash in varying degrees for so much as reading a feminist book. Idol actress Suzy was ostracized for sharing a petition in support of a YouTuber who was sexually assaulted. Apink’s Naeun had to delete the pictures of her holding a phone case that said “GIRLS CAN DO ANYTHING” because she received an unbelievable amount of hate online from anti-feminists.
Given such a sensitive climate, it is understandable why most idols tend to steer clear of voicing any strong opinion on this topic. But there are always a few who choose to express their opinions freely and, on occasion, let the world know their standpoint. Loossemble’s HyunJin might be one of those idols.
One of her recent posts on a fan communication app has caught netizens’ attention, where HyunJin shared a picture featuring multiple feminist books. At the center of the picture were multiple copies of Highly Sensitive People by Ilse Sand, and fans are guessing that it was the main reason why she posted the photo, as a sort of reference to Loossemble’s title track, “Sensitive.”
The other two books spotted in the photo were Feminism Is For Everybody by Bell Hooks and Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit. Since all three of these books are globally popular feminist narratives, the photo ruffled the feathers of many male community users. But other netizens jumped to her defense, praising her for her boldness and criticizing her haters.
- “Those b*stards don’t even spend any money, so what can they even do? LOL. They can only make GIFs and sexually harass them.”
- “She’s pretty.”
- “Even if they boycott, isn’t it f*cking obvious what’s going to happen?”
- “I’ll try reading them.”
- “You guys, please read some books. Ugh.”
- “They have never been to libraries or bookstores, so they act like this when they see so much as a bookshelf.”
- “Hyunjin-ah, fighting!”
- “It’s always the b*stards who don’t even read books that have the most to say.”
- “I have to carry it like a talisman.”
- “The male fans don’t spend any money anyway, so it’s okay.”
- “Try reading ‘Men Explain Things to Me.’ It’s a book about mansplaining.”
- “Thanks for the book recommendation.”
- “Their song title is ‘Sensitive,’ but it looks like real sensitive people were triggered…No, but she can read whatever she wants, why’s that a problem? And you can see that there are several identical books, and they’re discolored. It is clearly a library, LOL.”