SEOUL, Jul. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — Following backlash over its decision to disallow advertisements regarding feminism and politics in subway facilities, Seoul Metro has decided to ban all advertisements that feature personal views of individuals or interest groups.
But experts say that the decision is bound to be controversial as the exact nature of what constitutes a “personal view” is hard to define.
Last month, Seoul Metro banned all advertisements that contain “personal views” on gender, politics, religion and ideology on all eight subway lines it currently operates.
The subway operator said the decision to ban advertisements on personal views comes after the controversy that followed the Metro’s disallowed ads on feminism.
Earlier, Hana, an activist group composed of university students, was planning to put out an advertisement supporting the Panmunjom Declaration at Gwanghwamun Station, although the ad was ultimately rejected by Seoul Metro.
In May, students at Sookmyung Women’s University tried to post an advertisement related to feminism at the subway station nearest to the school, only for it to fall through.
Meanwhile an advertisement to commemorate President Moon Jae-in’s birthday in January was posted at 10 subway stations in Seoul, a move which was criticized for undermining the neutrality of a public institution.
Supporters of President Moon took the same approach as fans of K-pop stars when asking the subway authorities to post congratulatory messages via advertisement boards at subway stations.
However, with the most recent decision by Seoul Metro to ban all advertisements regarding politics on its premises, birthday wishes to President Moon will no longer be allowed.
However, advertisements featuring K-pop stars will continue to be approved.
A Seoul Metro official said that an ad congratulating a star’s birthday is not in the same category as an advertisement featuring an individual or a group’s “personal views.”
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)