Feminists fold tent on festival attacking Miss Korea pageant

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Feminists fold tent on festival attacking Miss Korea pageant

For whatever reason ― the glorification of the female body or the allure of transcendental qualities in women ― beauty contests endure and mockery of them doesn’t.
The Anti-Miss Korea Festival, launched in 1999 by a feminist group, to berate beauty pageants, is calling it quits this year. The group, known as If, says it has met its goals.
Though the offended feminists failed to bring an end to what they saw as degradation of females in beauty contests, they believe positive changes have been brought about.
Aired live on national television, the Miss Korea pageant has for decades had the power to draw viewers to television sets like bears to honey. Women watch the show in catty delight. With eyes glued to the screen, men busy themselves gauging contestants’ bodies in swimsuits. One result of the Anti-Miss Korea crusade is the swimsuit contest was removed and the show is no longer broadcast live.
The sixth and final Anti-Miss Korea Festival raises its curtain at 5 p.m. today at Popcorn Hall inside Namdaemun Mesa, a central Seoul shopping mall.
Following the motto that “Everyone has his or her beauty,” the festival doesn’t judge contestants. But the focus is not just on feminist issues but also highlights the problems of the disabled, the indigent and other disadvantaged groups.
“The spirit of Anti-Miss Korea now is more than just feminism, but a roundup of social outcasts,” said Goh Ju-yeong, a festival organizer. “Starting next year, the festival will be reborn and be true to this bigger goal,” she said.
Each of today’s nine participants will bring their own unique repertoire, mostly musical and dance performance.
Performances in a “talk show” by the “Korea Women’s Group in Search of Orgasm,” and “Hi & Goodbye, My Trauma,” a musical that aims to heal the scars of women’s hearts following intense social stigma.
Jeong Yeon-hee, who will perform traditional music, says her use of crutches is no different from wearing glasses.
Particpants can win awards entitled: “Let’s Play,” “Let’s Turn Over [Stereotypes]” and “Let’s Laugh,” plus an Anti-Miss Korea Award.
Instead of relying on a jury, Anti-Miss Korea enlists reviewers from a wide range of occupations who have a common interest in feminist issues.
Guests add yet more spice to the festival. In the lineup this year is Be In-sun, an old-time pop singer who recently published a book in which she accuses her husband, who runs a conglomerate, of destroying her happiness and family harmony. If that’s not enough, you may indulge in the rock music by a band of Ajumma, or middle-aged housewives.
Now that today also happens to be Parents’ Day, you might consider taking your whole family to the festival. Men and women, young or old, feminists and non-feminists, all are welcome to kick back at the Anti-Miss Korea Festival, the last but not least of its kind.


by Chun Su-jin

Tickets are 15,000 won ($12) for adults and 10,000 won for students. Advance ticket sales are at www.ticketlink.co.kr. For more information, call (02) 332-5124 or visit the Web site www.antimisskorea.com.

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