|A written apology is posted on Seoul Milk's official website, Wednesday, over its controversial online advertisement that compared women to cows and depicted secret filming of women. Captured from Seoul Milk's website|
By Jung Da-min
Seoul Milk, the leading company in the country's dairy industry, has apologized for an online advertisement that seemed to compare women to cows and showed a man secretly filming them, which some have comparable to the illegal "molka" crimes that have plagued Korea. Molka is a Korean term meaning spycam and is associated with illegal filming of women.
In the advertisement, which was uploaded on the company's official YouTube channel late last month, a male hiker deep in the mountains of Gangwon Province stumbles upon a group of women and men dressed in white clothes practicing yoga in a field as a female model sensually drinks spring water from a pristine stream and from a leaf.
While the hiker secretly films them, he steps on a branch making a noise that alerts the group to his presence ― they look at him and then turn into dairy cows in the blink of an eye.
|Scenes from Seoul Milk's controversial video advertisement depicting a male hiker spotting "pristine" women and men deep in the mountains of Gangwon Province, and the people turning into cows, uploaded on the company's official YouTube channel, Nov. 29. Captured from Twitter|
The ad immediately brought strong criticism among online users who said, although men also appear in the advertisement, it deliberately compares women to cows by taking close-ups of a female model drinking water from a leaf and also arching her back in a yoga pose, while the scene of the hiker capturing video footage with a large camera is suggestive of an illegal spycam crime.
Spycam crimes have arisen as a serious social problem in Korea, with more than 30,000 cases of such filming with the use of hidden cameras reported to police between 2013 and 2018. Victims were mostly women filmed with the use of tiny, hidden cameras that recorded them while naked, using the bathroom or engaging in sexual acts.
As controversy grew, Seoul Milk removed the YouTube video, Wednesday. Later in the night the same day, the company issued a written apology on its official website: "We sincerely apologize to everyone who felt uncomfortable seeing our milk advertising video uploaded on Seoul Milk's official YouTube channel, Nov. 29. We are taking the matter seriously and will take more careful measures to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future. We once again bow our heads and apologize to all consumers who felt uncomfortable with this advertisement."
Online commenters said it was inappropriate for the company to approve the advertisement when it contained "sensual and perverted" imageries.
"I guess they were going for that The Fairy and the Woodcutter (a Korean folktale about a woodcutter stealing a fairy's clothing while she takes a bath) type of mythical feeling ... but it does not translate to the modern day ... especially with the molka crisis," a Twitter user said.