SEOUL (KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A scantily clad woman's "morale boosting performance" for South Korean soldiers has caused a furore over the sexual objectification of women in the patriachal society, forcing top brass to apologise.
The woman, dressed in a bikini, is shown in a video uploaded on YouTube on Aug 15 dancing in suggestive poses to K-pop music. Each of her poses is met with thunderous roars from soldiers.
"How old are you?" asks the host, to which the woman, introduced as a fitness model and a gym coach, answers "21". The audience erupts in excited screams.
As of 4pm on Monday (Aug 20), the video had been watched more than 60,000 times with nearly 800 comments criticising the programme of sexually objectifying women.
"This is beyond shocking. This kind of 'consolation' performance in 2018? What exactly is being consoled here?" one YouTube user wrote.
Another wrote, "Rampant sexual commercialisation noted right here. It's understood that soldiers have desires but this just makes them look bad."
Some dissenting comments said a woman's body is nothing to be censored, and the fitness model must have voluntarily agreed to be in the show.
By 5pm on Monday, more than 15,000 had signed an online petition filed Friday asking the presidential office to ban future military performances. A rival petition which asked the government to "not be swayed by feminist groups and restore Army to its natural state" secured fewer than 10 signatories.
If an online petition posted on the Cheong Wa Dae website garners more than 200,000 signatures within 30 days, the presidential office is required to issue a formal response.
The Army's Capital Defense Command issued an official apology Monday, saying the controversial performance was put together and hosted by a private organisation and the Army had no previous knowledge of the details of the programme.
The Command vowed to thoroughly check future performances in advance to prevent a similar faux pas.