KOREA: Japanese star reveals sexual harassment

Korean university instructor fired after Junko Sagawa tells her story on local TV show

The Korea Times
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

By Bae Ji-sook

A Japanese television personality has revealed her experience of being the victim of sexual harassment by a Korean instructor, resulting in his dismissal.

Junko Sagawa, a 22-year-old student from Japan and more known with her first name in Korea, on Monday said on the local TV show "The Beauties' Chatterbox," that her teacher called her and said that he would give her a full grade if she slept with him.

After the program aired, Hankook University of Foreign Studies, where Junko is studying as a fourth year student in journalism studies, quickly announced that the teacher was not a professor at the school, but an instructor. The school did not renew his contract.

Junko said that she received the obscene call three years ago, when she was a freshman at the school. She said that when she missed a few class sessions, the 48-year-old man called her.

"He said that Japanese women tend to sleep with other men (more) easily than Korean women. What I found later was that he said those things to other girls from different Asian countries," she said on the program.

She confessed that all she could do then was to talk to her friends about the conversation and try to calm down.

Meanwhile on the program, 12 out of 16 panelists said they encountered any sexual harassment in Korea, astonishing viewers.

Audience members and experts said that it's time for society to think about foreigner's rights involving sexual harassment. University counseling centers receive complaints by foreigners of sexual harassment and staff at the counseling center of Ewha Womans University said that some indecent Koreans take advantage of foreigners who are unable to effectively cope with sexual harassment.

A Canadian student said she was petrified when her first Korean blind date suddenly tried to have sex with her saying "I know that Western women sleep with men on the first date." The mortified woman said it became a nightmare and tainted her positive image of Korea.

The talk show airs every Monday evening where 16 foreign females living in Korea talk about their experiences in the country and explore the differences among cultures. It is one of the most watched programs of the station with a 15.2 percent viewer rating on Mondays.

Junko said that she would go back to Japan for a vacation to avoid the media frenzy over her story and come back to Korea later.