Image: Limbus Company. Credit: Project Moon.
The toxic misogyny of young South Korean men is well-documented by this point - such as their ludicrous overreaction to a finger-gesture, which made international news in 2021. Misogyny fueled a conservative turn among young men that played a role in Yoon Suk-yeol’s 윤석열 razor-thin margin of victory in the 2022 presidential election. South Korea’s incels have been out of the news cycle for some time, following the political fall of their champion Lee Jun-seok 이준석 in August 2022. (See previous coverage, “Fall of the House of Lee.”) But this week’s news found misogynistic young men making an appearance in their natural habitat: video games.
Limbus Company, a mobile role-playing game developed by Project Moon, drew the attention of online gaming communities in mid-July after users complained that the game’s summer special skins featured a female character in a full-body wetsuit rather than a bikini. Indignant gamers doxxed the designer of the character skins, who turned out to be a man. Undeterred by this setback, trolls fixed their attention onto a female illustrator who appeared in the game credits (but was not involved with the summer character skins in any way) and dug up deleted tweets from 2016 in which she expressed support for feminism.
On July 25, a dozen enraged men visited the offices of Project Moon to demand the illustrator be fired. At 11 p.m. that day, the company called the illustrator to inform her that she had lost her job. According to the Korean Women’s Trade Union 전국여성노동조합, at least 14 women in the videogame industry lost their jobs between 2016 and 2020 for expressing their support for feminism.