In her first Cabinet meeting, President Park Gyun-he signed the “Overexposure Law” which considers women showing their bare skin excessively in public or exposing body parts that should otherwise remain covered, in the process making others feel discomfort or embarrassment to be guilty of indecent exposure. More specifically, it is called South Korea’s Underexposure Law.
It recently took effect and this has been met with mixed reactions.
Old law, old administrations
The bill was passed during the past administration, and it was laid down for South Korea’s first woman president to sign. What added fuel to the controversy is that she also happens to be the daughter of Park Chung-hee who had also passed an almost similar law during the 1970’s. During the 1970’s, there was a ban on skirts which ended higher than 20 centimeters above the knee.
Park Chung-hee came into power after a coup d’etat in 1963 and was president for life until 1979, when he was assassinated. Some newspapers gave the opinion that this is the first indication that the present administration would introduce more repressive laws which could lead to a dictatorship. Others have railed against the the vague language used, and fear that this could be abused through ambiguous interpretations.
Popularity of miniskirts and short shorts
The law comes with a fine of SKW50,000 ($43) for every offence. Police authorities have explained that the law is meant to prevent public indecency due to nudity. They further emphasize that the law was not aimed at miniskirts or short shorts. They have been trying to assure the public that the law is not meant to regulate what people wear.
Korean pop singers, also known as k-pop stars, have been known to wear short shorts and miniskirts, have voiced their fears that they were the target of the bill. The miniskirt and short shorts have become a signature outfit of k-pop stars.
Female Korean celebrities have gone on Twitter to express their opinions and criticisms. In the meantime, the government has accused the Opposition of spreading lies and misinformation regarding the new law. The government also promised to publish a clarification and implementation guidelines.