A disgraceful beauty pageantA beauty pageant contestant from the United Kingdom claimed that she and her peers were deceived, ill treated, sexually harassed and even bribed while competing in the Miss Asia Pacific World contest in South Korea earlier this month. Amy Willerton, 19, who holds the title of Miss Bath, Miss Bristol and Miss Wales University, plans to take legal action against Korean organizers, according to reports by the BBC and other British press.
If her allegations turn out to be true, they would be a major embarrassment and international disgrace for the country, especially at a time when Korean entertainers and pop culture are gaining popularity around the world.
There are differing claims from the victim and the main organizer, Elite Asia Pacific Group. The victim and two other contestants withdrew from the event held in Daegu, Busan, and Seoul mid-October on the final eve of the contest after a two-week stay for the beauty pageant, accusing organizers of corruption and mistreatment.
Pageant officials, meanwhile, claim that sexual harassment is unthinkable in international events, explaining that their actions were misunderstood purely due to cultural differences. They said that they only tapped shoulders of contestants as a gesture of encouragement. But other contestants also reported to the police that their waists and shoulders were touched by pageant officials during the competition.
The police must investigate the case thoroughly. The victim in question told British press that when police arrived, organizers outright paid them hush money. We believe that the police officials who came to the scene must also undergo internal investigation and apologize if any misdeed is discovered. If the allegations are groundless, however, both the organizers and police must demand that the British media correct their earlier reports.
The beauty contest, overall, had been poorly managed. For instance, a number of contestants in the pageant complained that they were not properly reimbursed for the cost of participating in the competition and instead were given cheap lodging and bad food. The event also failed to draw public interest as seen by the many empty seats in the event.
Authorities must exercise more discretion when reviewing and approving international events by enterprises and organizations without public credibility to avoid further embarrassments in the future.
If not, it will only bring disgrace to our national integrity.