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Lawmaker Wears Colorful Dress to Work, Scoffs at Flak

South Korea's youngest lawmaker, Ryu Ho-jeong, says she wanted to 'shatter tradition' of dark suits
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2020 9:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – The "pink dress effect" has consumed South Korean politics after the country's youngest member of the National Assembly wore a colorful wrap dress this week to a parliamentary session, and she's got both supporters and detractors. The South China Morning Post—which deems the short dress worn by 28-year-old Ryu Ho-jeong red, not pink—reports her attire caused quite a stir Tuesday amid the usual dark suits and ties worn by the mostly male body. And it was a purposeful move by Ryu, a member of the minority progressive Justice Party, who is said to be "bemused" by the commotion over her outfit. "I am a legislative worker and the National Assembly is my workplace," she said. "The authority of the National Assembly is not built upon those suits." She told Yonhap she "wanted to shatter that tradition," per the Guardian.

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She also noted her experience with this unspoken dress code is exactly what other women in her country are going through in their respective workplaces. Backlash has already come her way, some of it misogynistic and sexist. One Facebook commenter said she looked like she was a bar hostess collecting drink payments, while another asked: "Are you doing an escort service?" But Ryu also has many lending support. Ko Min-Jung, a female member of the ruling Democratic Party, offered her thanks to Ryu for "shattering excessive rigorism and authoritarianism at the National Assembly." There are 57 female lawmakers now in the 300-seat assembly—a record number for South Korea, but still lopsided by international standards, CNN notes. Meanwhile, the brand that sells Ryu's $70 dress sold out of it soon after pictures of her wearing it started circulating. (Read more South Korea stories.)

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