‘Giving up on men’: South Korea’s viral ‘4B movement’ explained

‘Giving up on men’: South Korea’s viral ‘4B movement’ explained
via Elle Morre on Unsplash
Michelle De Pacina
19 days ago
The viral “4B Movement” in South Korea serves as a response to prevalent sexism in the nation. 
Key points:
  • The movement, which initially originated in 2019, has been gaining attention on social media after a TikTok video discussing how Korean women are boycotting Korean men went viral.
  • The trend entails rejecting traditional gender roles, including marriage and child-rearing, as a form of protest against the patriarchy.
The details:
  • In the viral TikTok video uploaded on Feb. 17, Jeanie, who uses the username @denimchromosome, explained the 4B movement as women “giving up” on men. 
  • “They’re f*cking assh*les. They’re not going to change, so we’re all gonna go extinct… Korean ethnicity is about to go away, and Korean women are literally just like…,” Jeanie says in the video while holding up her middle finger. 
  • The video has since garnered over 5.5 million views, more than 973,000 likes and thousands of comments, especially from women, calling for its worldwide progression.
  • The 4B Movement advocates for women to reject traditional gender norms through four principles: “bihon” (no heterosexual marriage), “bichulsan” (no childbirth), “biyeonae” (no dating men) and “bisekseu” (no heterosexual sexual relationships). 
Sparking the 4B Movement:
  • The movement, sparked by Cho Nam-Joo’s 2016 novel “Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982,” which exposes widespread misogyny and inequality in South Korea, emerged in 2019 as a direct response to the country’s pervasive sexism.
  • Many Korean women are fed up with traditional gender roles and the prevalent violence against them. Recent incidents, including high-profile murders of women and crimes like revenge porn and “spy-cam sex crimes,” have fueled their discontent.
  • In its 4B expose, The Cut pointed to an instance of a man murdering a young woman in a public bathroom, claiming he did so because women ignored him. The police, however, did not classify the incident as a hate crime.
South Korea’s birth rate: 
  • While it is unclear how and if the trend has contributed to the nation’s birth rate, it coincides with South Korea’s struggle with plummeting fertility rate and marriages. 
  • This year, the nation beat its own record for the world’s lowest fertility rate after it dropped for the fourth consecutive year, and marriages in the country have decreased by 40% over the past 10 years.
  • According to experts, the low fertility rates are due to the country’s demanding work cultures, rising costs of living, changing attitudes toward marriage and gender equality and rising disillusionment among younger generations. Women have also cited the patriarchal culture of childcare and discrimination at work.
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