Photo: Kim Hyeon-suk, Minister of Gender Equality and Family. Credit: Chosun Ilbo.
In the proposal by the Ministry of Interior and Safety 행정안전부 announced on October 6, the Gender Equality Ministry would be abolished and most of its functions would be transferred to the Ministry of Health and Welfare 보건복지부, under a new bureau to be called Center for Population, Family and Gender Equality 인구가족양성평등본부.
Abolition of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has been one of Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열’s top campaign promises, often credited as salvaging Yoon’s struggling presidential campaign by appealing to aggressive misogyny of South Korea’s young men. (See previous coverage, “Misogyny and McCarthyism: Yoon’s Way Forward.”)
The Ministry of Gender Equality had no internal discussion regarding its demise, nor did it have any formal communication with the Interior Ministry on how its functions would continue. Gender Equality Minister Kim Hyeon-suk 김현숙 여성가족부 장관, who repeatedly called for the abolition of her own ministry, said: “The intervening process about what the Gender Equality Ministry said and what other ministries said does not matter. What matters is the final result.” Yoon Suk-yeol said the abolition of the Gender Equality Ministry was to “strengthen the protection over women, family, children and other socially weak.”
The National Assembly 국회, where the liberal opposition Democratic Party 민주당 holds the majority, must approve the Interior Ministry’s proposal for the reorganization to take effect. The Democratic Party announced its formal opposition, arguing the Gender Equality Ministry should be expanded instead.