Seoul is a booming and nuanced city, born as a product of the Korean War and built overnight into a mega power of industry, technology, and culture in just the last 60 years. Maybe because of such rapid industrialization, Seoul, and Korea as a whole haven’t yet had a chance to match their innovative thinking in math and science, to gender equality and modern social norms.
As Elise Hu, International correspondent for NPR, said on an episode of Foreign Correspondence, “The difference between Korea and a lot of the western world is that Korea, because of its fast economic growth from as poor as subsaharan Africa in the 1960s to now one of the richest nations in the world, essentially did not experience an adolescence as a country when it comes to a society.”
The patriarchy is prevalent in Seoul, which still ranks poorly in international comparisons of overall gender equality. As a result, it’s difficult to see a feminist Seoul, outside of the plastic surgery and makeup industries that champion unrealistic beauty ideals for women. That said, you’ll find when you look and you listen and you hear, you’ll realize there are emblems of feminism hidden in plain sight, and multiplying.