Ex-Exec of South Korean Film Festival Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival

A former executive officer of the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival is the latest to come under fire in South Korea's #MeToo movement.

A former programmer for the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan) has accused a high-ranking official who previously worked at the leading Asian genre event of sexual misconduct.

Alice Yoo (Korean name Yoo Ji-seon) opened up to the South Korean press on Thursday that a former executive officer of BiFan and respected figure in the local film community sexually harassed her in October 2013. "We were in the attendance of other people when he complimented me about how lovely I looked in my jeans, and nonchalantly touched my hips," Yoo told Channel A News.

In accordance with South Korean media and human rights standards, the identity of sexual assault victims is usually protected under anonymity. Yoo went public on her own accord. Yoo said she filed a complaint with Bucheon metropolitan government, the main host and financier of the festival, but things stopped short of an apology from the ex-official, whose identity has yet to be revealed. Yoo, who had worked for over 10 years for BiFan, said she was subsequently fired from the festival in September 2016 for "political reasons," claiming that the current execs were closely acquainted with her alleged sexual aggressor.

Unfortunately, the statute of limitations has expired for the sexual misconduct, but Yoo says she has been taking part in a prolonged legal battle during the past two years against the former officer for defamation.

South Korea's own equivalent of the #MeToo movement has been gathering strength, both on and off-line and across various sectors. In the past month alone, a female public prosecutor came forth about being groped by a senior official and then getting demoted when she complained, while writer Choi Young-mi's poem titled "Goemul (Monster)" called public attention to Ko Un, a literary giant who had been nominated multiple times for the Nobel Prize but whose notorious predatory behavior toward young female writers had largely been kept under wraps.

On Friday, award-winning director Lee Hyun-ju was also ousted from the local film community after she was found guilty of sexually assaulting a colleague.

Feb. 9, 8:48 p.m. Updated with Yoo Ji-seon's English name, Alice Yoo.