An San: why the Olympic archery star faced online abuse at home

An San



The winningest archer in modern Olympic history. An San.



An San’s Tokyo Olympic Games



This 20-year-old rising archery star rewrote the history at the Tokyo Olympic Games. She became the first-ever archer in Olympic history to win three gold medals at a single Games. She’s also the first Korean athlete who won three gold medals at a single summer Olympic Games.

Everyone, including President Moon, congratulated her—except for some internet trolls.



An San and her three gold medals



While her success story in Tokyo made headlines in Korea, many non-Korean media, such as Reuters and The New York Times, gave their attention to the anti-feminist sentiment aroused by An’s short haircut.



The New York Times wrote: “Thousands of online commenters have accused her of being a feminist, a word that often has more radical connotations in South Korea, where some people associate the label with hating men.”





Okay… And the online commenters—or keyboard warriors—condemned her for having a short haircut because that represents her identity as a feminist—they said.

But her hairstyle was not the only reason that drew anti-feminist sentiment. There are other (ridiculous) reasons.



MAMAMOO



Through her Instagram, An said she’s a big fan of MAMAMOO. She even put a Moobong pin badge on her vest when she was playing in Tokyo.



An’s Instagram story – she’s so happy as Solar mentioned her



Here, those internet trolls accused her of being a feminist because, they said, most of MAMAMOO fans are female. Also, as An goes to a women’s university, they said she was suspected to be a feminist.



The online commenters criticized An for some words she used: 웅앵웅 and 오조오억.



Thomas McDonell’s Tweet. He loves to tweet in Korean.



웅앵웅(ung-aeng-ung) is an internet buzzword, meaning a murmuring sound. It became popular as Thomas McDonell, an American actor, twitted this phrase with no meaning, “웅앵웅 초키포키” for fun. (He is well-known for his Tweets written in Korean.) Now so many people use this word for fun, or for nothing.



literal translation: “5 trillion and 500 million tuna recipes”



오조오억(o-jo-o-eog) literally means 5 trillion and 500 million. It just means “so many” or “so much.” This one is also widely used, even in ads. If you want to emphasize something, you can use this word.




The internet trolls argued that these two words are feminist words—or, to be accurate, misandry words. Why? Because the two words are often used in womens’ online communities, which the anti-feminists think are full of hate speech about Korean men.



Koo Hyesun’s Instagram



Fortunately, many Koreans condemned those commenters and cheered An. Some celebrities posted pictures of their short haircuts to protect her from pointless denouncements.



Behind this online ruckus was the anti-feminist sentiment among young Korean men. As mentioned earlier, the word “feminist” has radical connotations in South Korea. Some Koreans have misconstrued belief that the term feminism is synonymous with radicalism and misandry.



Kim Ji Young, Born 1982



That’s why female celebrities have been sometimes asked to explain whether they are feminists or not, after posting something related to feminism. For example, back in 2018, Irene of Red Velvet was attacked by internet trolls because she said in an interview that she read Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982. The novel was hailed as one of the most important feminist novels in Korea.





This absurd outcry against the Olympic champion was a shameful scene. As a supporter of a healthier community for all, I hope the Korean culture grows more gender-sensitive.





Anyway… Congratulations, An!

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