Social media users in China are debating whether a male South Korean reporter being kissed by female fans during the World Cup is "sexual harassment", in the latest controversy of sexism involving journalists at the testosterone charged tournament.
The video clip shows Jeon Gwang-ryeol, a MBN (a South Korean TV channel) reporter broadcasting in Russia on June 28, being kissed on the cheek twice by female Russian fans, BBC reported on Thursday (July 5).
The reporter tried to laugh the kisses off but looked embarrassed after the incident, the report said.
The incident came after a spate of assaults on female journalists covering the quadrennial event watched by millions around the world.
At least three have been assaulted while working. A man attempted to kiss Brazilian sports reporter Julia Guimaraes and her emphatic rebuke was caught on camera. “Don’t do this, I don’t allow you to do this, never, OK?” she said. “This is not polite, this is not right.”
Malin Wahlberg, a reporter at Aftonbladet TV, was also attacked, grabbed by the shoulders and forcibly kissed at the Sweden-Korea game.
A journalist for Germany's Deutsche Welle was groped and kissed on the cheek by a fan while delivering a live segment to camera in Moscow.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5VrMmdvAnU
The public broadcaster condemned the assault on its Colombian journalist Julieth Gonzalez Theran, calling for "zero tolerance" on harassment to ensure female reporters can "do their jobs at major sporting events".
A debate about the male-kissed-by-female incident emerged on Weibo, China's largest social networking site, with Weibo users asking why the actions of female fans were not being criticised in the same way as their male counterparts.
"It is a very sharp contrast with the previous news," one Weibo user said according to the BBC. "Why is this not sexual harassment?" asked another, whose comment received hundreds of likes.
"If it's a good looking person (kissing), it's not called sexual harassment," one person wrote sarcastically.
Other users "called for equality between men and women" and said that the response to this incident shows that inequalities still exist.
Some users also had a problem with the media using the term "beauties" when referring to the women.
While the kiss was a subject of debate in China, it failed to draw much attention in South Korea where only MBN and its affiliated media outlets covered the story, BBC said.
However one South Korean Twitter did join the discussion posting: "Regardless of your gender, you get sexually harassed. An MBN journalist went to Russia to cover the World Cup and he was sexually harassed by two women."
Ms Theran, the Deutsche Welle reporter who was groped, spoke for journalists of both sexes after her abuse, saying: "We do not deserve this treatment. We are equally valuable and professional."