TIME

#MeToo heads east

Women across Asia are fighting sexism and assault By Suyin Haynes and Aria Hangyu Chen/Seoul and Hong Kong

IT’S BEEN EIGHT YEARS SINCE SEO JI-HYUN SAYS she was sexually harassed, but it’s still painful to recall. “For a long time, I tortured myself by blaming myself for everything,” she tells TIME on a cloudy September morning in Seoul’s trendy Apgujeong neighborhood. Seo, a top-level prosecutor in South Korea, alleges that a senior male colleague repeatedly groped her at a funeral in 2010, while the country’s Justice Minister sat nearby.

She reported the incident to her managers shortly after, but was subjected to performance audits that she describes as unfair and assigned to a lower-level branch outside Seoul—a move she says did not match her strong track record at work. (The Ministry of Justice did not respond to TIME’s requests for comment; Seo’s alleged harasser has said he was too drunk at the time to recall the incident but denies any involvement in the alleged cover-up and retaliation.)

Last fall, Seo watched as the #MeToo movement took off in Hollywood and spread across industries in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe. She realized even “world-famous actresses” had suffered as she had. “I had more confidence in believing that it wasn’t my fault,” she says. In November, Seo asked to meet with senior management to open an investigation into the incident and her treatment

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