Unninetwork(언니네트워크 http://www.unninetwork.net) is a NGO dedicated to feminist cultural activism in South Korea. Korean women use the term “unni(언니)” to refer to their elder sister or another women who is on friendly terms with them; in other words, “unni”symbolizes the intimacy and sisterhood between women. We named ourselves Unninetwork(unni+network) to show that we value mutual support, empathy, and solidarity among women.
There are about 300 members in Unninetwork. There are two types of membership: “staffs” workers who participate actively in the preparation and implementation of Unninetwork’s activities and projects, and “supporters” members who do not work for Unninetwork but support our causes.
Unninetwork consists of a representative, Department of Affairs. The representative of Unninetwork and the Department of Affairs form the Board of Committee, which gathers every two weeks to discuss the management of Unninetwork.
The representative, Department members are called the “operators” of Unninetwork. Staffs are all part-time, voluntary, unpaid workers. Not all feminists can live as full-time activists; this system makes it possible for feminists with different backgrounds to fulfill their aspiration to be a part of feminist activism without having to give up their regular careers.
Unninetwork aims to eliminate all kinds of sexual discriminations and oppressions by creating a women-friendly environment and contributing to the formation and expansion of feminist networks.
In specific, our goals are:
- Creating an alternative environment where women can express themselves freely without sexual discrimination;
- Forming and expanding feminist networks – In which differences (age, class, sexual orientation, etc.) among women are respected
– In which feminist culture is created and shared
– Through which Korean feminists connect with Asian women,
learning from the lives and wisdoms of women from different social, cultural, and historical backgrounds
– Where time and geographical constraints are overcome through cyber-networking
- Creating new visions for a future without discrimination and oppression
Activities & Projects
Since 2004, Unninetwork has held the Feminism Camp, an annual women-only and eco-friendly event. Its theme is “Women’s body, Culture, and the Environment.” It facilitates a liberating experience from participants, where they can be free from the gazes of men and the pressure to dress and behave “like women/girls.” For example, participants are encouraged not to wear bras and makeup, not to shave, etc. The camp consists of activities such as feminist music concerts, sports games, open discussion on women’s body and desires, etc. It is also designed to free the bodies and minds of participants, to let them express themselves without (self-)restraint, and build friendship and understanding among them. This energy-packed three-day event enables participants to become proud of being women and feminists.
Festival for Bihon(non-married) Women
One of Unninetwork’s main agenda is raising awareness on the difficulties and discrimination on women who live outside the marriage system. Koreans use the term Mihon, literally translated as “not yet married,” to refer to those who are not married. Recognizing that the term stigmatizes those who are not married, especially women, as abnormal and immature, Unninetwork chooses to use the term Bihon, “not married.”
Unninetwork held the Festival for Bihon Women in 2007 and 2008, and plans to make it an annual event. Through this festival, we seek to raise awareness on the bihon women’s issue, empower those who live alternative lives outside the marriage system, search for viable action plans, and build a sense of solidarity among non-married women.
Three-colored Hot Potato Forum
The Hot Potato Forum is a monthly discussion forum on various social issues. The purpose (the “three colors”) of the forum is to be “open” to everyone, to be “easygoing” so that every participant can form and share opinions freely based on their daily experiences, and to involve participants in “active” discussions through which Unninetwork decides on its stances on social issues and devise further action plans. First held in February 2005, the monthly forum has dealt with issues such as the government Ministry of Gender and Family, “From Embodied Fear to Imagining New Ways for Self-Defense,” lesbian feminism, sex work, the lives of and discrimination on not-married women, free-trade agreements(FTA), networking efforts with feminists across Asia, etc.
Unninetwork has published three books so far. The Rooms in Unninet(2006), a collection of popular articles posted by various members on A Room of Her Own, sold more than 20,000 copies. Unninetwork is planning to publish the Chinese translation in Taiwan. Its sequel, The Rooms in Unninet 2, came out in 2007. The most recent publication, Playing Tag in Unninet(2008), is a collection of popular articles posted on Channel[Net].
“Mouths We Want to Sew Up” Awards
Every year, Unninetwork holds a mock award ceremony called “Mouths We Want to Sew Up.” The “award” is handed out to so-called leaders and celebrities who make abusive, degrading, and sexist remarks on women. Recipients of this “award” include Lee Myung-bak(current president of South Korea and ex-mayor of Seoul for saying “I’m against abortion, except when the child is handicapped,” “Choosing a less prettier massage girl is the smart thing to do,” among many others), the assemblymen Choi Yeon-hee for harassing a women reporter and later explaining that “I was so drunk that I thought she (the reporter) was the hostess of the restaurant,” and judge Han Yang-seok for suspending sentence on a women’s basketball team coach who harassed his team members sexually based on “the contribution the defendant made to women’s sports.”
“The Memory of Feminist Actions” Exibition :
Stepping Stones to Feminist Studies :
Women & Peace Tour :