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Controversial activist says will jump off bridge for cash

An outspoken men’s rights activist asked the public Thursday to lend him 100 million won (89,605), saying that he will jump off one of the bridges over Han River to promote his fund-raising effort.

Sung Jae-gi, the head of a men’s rights organization Man of Korea, wrote on the homepage of his organization that he is throwing himself off a bridge on Friday. He explained the reason for his stunt as “to raise money to run Man of Korea and pay its debts.”

“Dear citizens. I now put my life on the line and beg you. Please give Man of Korea another chance,” Sung wrote, while posting nine different bank accounts for his supporters to wire money to. Sung also handpicked his successor in case “anything went wrong,” and said he will pick any random bridge as his jump site as to not be a nuisance to the police or the fire department.

His announcement was met with cold indifference by the majority of netizens.

“Ridiculous. He is begging for money and he’s holding himself as a hostage,” wrote one netizen on the homepage of Man of Korea. Another chimed in saying, “Threat fund-raiser? That’s creative. Just jump off the bridge like you promised.”

Sung explained later that he was not looking to kill himself but simply showing his resolve to draw attention to his group. He said he would jump whether he got the money or not.

“Why do you all assume that jumping off the bridge will kill me? I have complete confidence in my survival,” he said via Twitter. “Please regard my actions as ‘trying to be less pathetic’ while asking for money.”

Sung reiterated his will to survive the supposed plunge by saying that the bulgogi party scheduled for 7 p.m. in his office on Friday was still on. “That’s why I said I’ll jump BEFORE 7 o’clock. Let’s eat bulgogi,” he said.

Former National Police University professor Pyo Chang-won wrote on Twitter that Sung should get help from counselors, and urged netizens not to pay him. “All lives are important. No one should treat their lives in such a light manner,” he said.

Sung simply replied, “You shut up.”

The 46-year-old activist is known for his relentless promotion of men’s rights, claiming that men can also be a minority in South Korean society. He is notorious for publicly blurting out disparaging remarks toward women and has worked to discontinue menstruation leave and other benefits for working women.

Many argued that Sung’s tireless work to support the rights of men was misplaced, given that South Korea is an already male-dominant society.

Only 9.1 percent, or 272 out of 2,993 executive jobs in government departments and public firms are occupied by women, according to a January report by Alio, a website compiling management information of the public sector. Over half of the corresponding organizations had no female board members.

The OECD’s annual employment outlook recently placed Korea’s employment rate for women at 53.5 percent, which is below the OECD average of 57.2 percent.

By Yoon Min-sik