Poetry News

Ko Un Exhibition Closes Following Sexual Harassment Allegations

By Harriet Staff
Ko Un

From Seoul, South Korea, Heekyong Yang reports on the closing of an exhibition by Ko Un, after allegations of sexual harassment were made by several women against the poet. The allegations surfaced in December when poet Choi Young-mi published a poem titled "Monster," which, in Yang's words, "describes harassment by an older male poet named 'En'." More from Reuters:

South Koreans have widely interpreted it to refer to Ko, seizing on passages that match his biography, including references to the buzz surrounding the unnamed poet’s Nobel Prize chances.

While not confirming the identity, Choi has not denied the public identification of Ko and last month she told a TV interviewer that she had been harassed by a famous poet who“repeatedly harassed female writers”.

Neither Choi nor Ko’s publisher, Bloodaxe Books, responded to requests for comment.

After Ko’s denial was reported in The Guardian on Sunday, Choi took to Facebook to post simply:“What I wrote in my poem‘Monster’ is true.”

The anti-sexual harassment #MeToo movement has taken off belatedly in male-dominated South Korea where discussion of sexual misconduct has long been taboo, but it has ensnared a growing number of leading entertainment figures in recent months.

The growing number of high-profile accusations has led President Moon Jae-in to urge law enforcement authorities to investigate reports of sexual abuse.

Choi’s oblique allegations have been corroborated by other writers, including poet Lee Hye-mi, who said on Facebook that she witnessed“ridiculous behaviour” while co-hosting a TV show with Ko.

The controversy has led the Seoul city government to permanently shut an exhibition devoted to Ko’s work.

Continue reading at Reuters.

Originally Published: March 5th, 2018