#MeToo Allegation Spurs South Korean Actor’s Suicide
Jon Min-ki, a South Korean actor best known for his roles on a variety of television shows was found dead at this morning. According to multiple news outlets, the cause of death appears to be suicide. Min-ki, who was perhaps best known known for his role in 2013’s The Attorney, had recently been accused of molesting multiple students at Cheongju University, where he had been teaching.
Following the harassment allegations Min-ki lost his role as a professor and was edited out of several television shows he had filmed. Min-ki’s death is the latest incident highlighting a rash of harassment allegations sweeping Asia in recent months and shows that the harassment problem goes far beyond what we are experiencing in the United States.
Sexual harassment has become such a pervasive issue that there [rightly] is a massive stigma attached to an allegation. Given the seriousness of events such as Min-ki’s suicide it is extremely important that we take all steps possible to create a culture that is inclusive of thought and reduces the potential for these types of incidents. There are no excuses for sexual harassment, but perhaps with greater awareness we could prevent both incidents like these and the resulting depression and suicide that is associated with high-profile harassment allegations.
It is easy to forget the consequences for perpetrators of sexual harassment, as we [correctly] focus first on the victims. But incidents such as Min-ki’s death highlight the pervasiveness of the problem, and the impact it has on those who commit horrible acts of harassment. As awareness of harassment grows we need to focus on truly changing culture so that we not only eliminate victimization of co-workers, but also reduce the potential for life-ending consequences of someone’s actions.
By teaching our employees the importance of acting respectfully in the workplace we can hopefully get a handle on the severe sexual harassment problem, both domestically and abroad. No employee deserves to work in an environment where harassment is tolerated, and the onus should be on companies to promote environments of tolerance so that those who have a propensity to commit such acts are identified and dealt with appropriately before their actions rise to the level of harassment. Had this been the case at the Cheongju University perhaps Min-ki would not have taken his own life.
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Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio