South Korea Assault Video Authenticity Debated, But It Doesn't MatterS

Was that South Korean viral video featuring two Western men taunting and assaulting a Korean woman staged? We don't know yet, but the question is overshadowing the noxious debate it sparked over whether she was asking for it by getting drunk with white boys in the club.

The video, which has been circulating around Korean social media since it was originally posted on Facebook in June, is one of the most disturbing things I've seen in months — and that's coming from someone who writes about sexual assault for a living. The men shove and push the woman, stick their fingers up her nose, and talk about her body like she's not even there.

Equally disturbing is the feedback it received from commenters who said she got what she deserved for embarrassing her country. “She went crazy over white guys, lived at a club, and ran into trouble,” one Jagei.com commenter explained. Another wrote, “After that, I think she’s going to go clubbing to meet white guys again.”

Now, some commenters on the original Washington Post post are claiming that the video was staged two years ago with paid actors:

This is a video made in Bedlam bar in Itaewon in January 2011. All the people were paid actors / actresses. The director is Korean and wanted to get famous for doing some edgy viral videos. This is one of them. He tried to release this over 2 years ago and nothing happened all the websites took it down for its graphic content. I know all this because I am one of the men in this video. I do not condone the actions that I did. But this was a paid acting job no one was hurt. The actress was wearing fake gums to make her teeth look bad and everyone left the shoot smiling and shaking hands.

The Korea Herald obtained a screenshot from a Facebook conversation in which the alleged director admitted that the video was staged and said he was planning on coming clean after "a while"; that's the most damning evidence anyone seems to have so far.

Let's say the video does turn out to be fake. Does that mean Westerners abroad don't ever treat women this way? Does it mean that numerous people who believed it to be true didn't conclude that the "kimchi girl" deserved that sort of treatment? If I fake my own mugging, that doesn't mean it's okay to mug someone, and it doesn't mean that victims of robberies are asking for it — especially if muggings are a problem that social taboos and sexist/ethnic assumptions prevent people from discussing.