[Featured] What on Earth Is "Megalia"?

If you closely keep up with trending social issues in Korea, you may have heard of the recent controversy caused by Nexon's contracted voice actress.

Megalia has lately drawn a lot of attention online and in real life. You may wonder who they really are. There are two good articles out there that can give you a comprehensive overview.

Here, we present you an intriguing article from the left-leaning satirical internet media Ddanzi Ilbo.

[Ddanzi Ilbo] How Has Megalia Become Women's Ilbe?
Date: July 26, 2016

A voice actress posted a picture of herself wearing a t-shirt on her social media.

Its design was decent. The catch phrase on the chest voiced an independent woman. There seemed to be nothing wrong. Moreover, it was in support of a certain cause.

However, as soon as it was known that the t-shirt merchandise is to support a Facebook group called “Megalia 4”, some netizens expressed their will to boycott the game where the actress' voice had a part.

The game is Nexon’s “Closers”. In order to prevent their users from ditching the game, Nexon naturally chose not to use her voice in the game.

In response to the decision, members of online communities such as Megalia and Womad (for convenience, such communities will be all called Megalia hereinafter) announced they will visit the Nexon headquarters and stage a protest. Many webtoon artists also expressed their support for the voice actress on social media, which then provoked anti-Megalian netizens to give poor ratings to their webtoons en masse. Disgruntled netizens also shared a list of the webtoonists who supported the voice actress, and waged a boycott campaign against Lezhin Comics, a popular webtoon platform for many of those artists.

Protesters against Nexon's decision to drop the voice actress.

The online controversy continues even after several days. The initial problem between Nexon and the voice actress has evolved into war of words between webtoon artists, readers, Progressive political groups/media and their supporters. Now we have to consider multiple talking points.

Point 1: Is it justifiable for Nexon to abandon all work of the voice actress in the game because of her political orientation (supporting Megalia)?

Point 2: Is the Facebook group "Megalia 4" distinguished from the original Megalia community?

Point 3: Are the Progressive party and media outlets who showed support for the voice actress also advocating Megalia?

Point 4: Is it justifiable for anti-Megalian netizens to give poor ratings to the webtoons (regardless of the webtoons' quality), show proof of withdrawing from their Lezhin Comics membership and criticize the Progressive party?

These are off the top of my head. When an incident grows complex, it is good to look back at the beginning of it all. Usually, if you sell stuff for a cause, it becomes a beautiful story. However, this case has brought the exact opposite outcome because it was Megalia who was being supported.

Megalia is the keyword that appears in every argument. What if the voice actress was aware that perceptions towards Megalia were this bad? She might have done it in secret or not have done it at all.


Fundamentally, this issue boils down to a matter of how to perceive Megalia. If you confine your arguments to freedom of speech and feminism, the flooding of numerous comments from various online communities such as DC Inside, Today Humor and Ruliweb may seem like an odd explosion of machismo.

Whether you are a man or a woman, if you consider Megalia to be an absolutely harmful community, you wouldn't advocate their freedom of speech. You may argue that Megalia 4 is not acceptable, too and regard them as a non-negotiable group that needs to be cleaned up by society.

However, if you believe Megalia is an advocacy group representing socially weak people that resort to aggressive methods, you would not understand why even Megalia 4 has to be persecuted or any expression of support for them is criticized.

Then how should we view Megalia? The fact is that the vast majority of people consider them a dangerous community. Regardless of whether such views are valid or not, it is undeniable that they are widespread perceptions.

Why has a group for feminism ended up being like this? In fact, the outcome was already predicted when they employed their "mirroring" strategy against none other than Ilbe. Originally, mirroring was a term used in the computer industry. DC Inside's MERS gallery, the former body of Megalia, began using it for feminist movement. It means to mirror discrimination and violence women experience in society by switching genders. This is not something new. Take a look at the following videos.

Video 1: It is a film depicting workplace gender roles in Sweden. As you can see, actors played female roles while actresses played male roles.

Video 2: Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart got their interview cards switched. Jesse's card contains questions about things like fashion, dating, pregnancy, nudity, nails, etc.

Even if they don't call it mirroring, such methods have been used in other countries, too, to help men and women understand each other better. However, Megalia's mirroring shows clear differences from those attempts in the videos.

First, who consumes the mirrored images is different. The audience for Video 1 is general public which of course includes many men. In Video 2, Jesse receives mirrored questions. He ends up realizing what actresses go through in interviews.

What Megalia produces through mirroring is posts on their own website. Readers are generally users of the website that is extremely hostile to men who are supposed to be their audience. The ironic fact that the main audience for their mirroring is lacking makes them talk only among themselves.

In other words, they do what feels good and fun for themselves rather than pursuing their original goal of raising awareness in men about what women experience. At the very beginning, they might have truly been for such a goal. However, internet communities tend to seek entertainment. Also, as initial users leave, the community aggressively tries to take in new users to keep themselves afloat. It is impossible to make new users fall in line with their original purpose.

Eventually, more sensational and vulgar comments which make many users feel gratifying receive the biggest up-votes. More and more users go that way in the name of "mirroring". The men who are supposed to be their audience hear about them only when internet media publish stories about their shocking posts. That becomes the image of Megalia for outsiders.

You may say that Megalia is a meaningful counterweight of Ilbe and Megalia makes men experience the same displeasure women do with Ilbe through "mirroring".

If you think Ilbe carries such a weight in the Republic of Korea, you are seriously mistaken. As seen from the commonly used term "Ilbe bug" referring to Ilbe users, Ilbe has been labeled senseless and abnormal by the majority of people. Because some Ilbe users were caught committing criminal acts, the users cannot even openly say they use the website. In this situation, do you still want to raise awareness about Ilbe by behaving in the same way as them? What on earth for?

That is the second difference. In Video 1, the male-playing actresses make dirty jokes but it is not something unusual. In Video 2, the gossip questions Jesse received were nothing unusual. What about Megalia's "mirroring"? They focus on Ilbe's immoral contents that are considered unusual by society.

"Immoral contents" exert a strong attraction because they are linked to social taboos. Doing something that everyone tells you not to gives you a certain sense of pleasure. You say no to whatever everyone else says. Quickly, you gain attention from people.

You can feel pleasure from such immoral acts only when you are certain that you don't belong to the target of your attack. In this vein, Ilbe's antics do not usually target the Conservative side while they mock every aspect of the Progressive side. As long as they are not targeted, Sewol victim families or men of merit for democratization are no exceptions, too. Pleasure is bigger when they bash someone nobody else does. Hence, Ilbe's contents become unpleasant for everyone except for the users.

The same goes for Megalia's posts. They concentrate on breaking taboos to maximize their pleasure. Everyone outside their community is bashed. Even gender-sensitive male commentators or women who don't use Megalia. The claim that Megalia's hate is not misandry but anti-misogyny doesn't hold water. Maybe in the beginning, they might have truly been anti-misogyny. But now, it is the fact that everyone outside Megalia considers their contents disgusting.

When people don't line up at a bus stop, the solution is very simple. You need to clearly mark where the line should begin. As long as a concrete mark is recognized by the first person, they will stand there. The next person will stand behind them. This repeats and creates a line. What if there is a person who stubbornly refuses to line up? They will realize that lining up is good for themselves after they get on a bus late due to the majority of people who lined up.

However, instead of placing a mark, what if you create a mess yourself claiming that other people should feel how uncomfortable it is if they don't line up? Especially what if you follow what is already considered bad behavior at a bus stop? Moreover, what if you create your own bus stop where you can act like maniacs? Will this be seen for public order?

Of course, marking is sufficient only if people already agree that lining up is good. People may have different thoughts about whether our society has agreed that explicit or implicit discrimination against women is not justifiable.

Hence, there is an opinion that at least Megalia achieved drawing frequent attention to feminism and misogyny issues in Korea. However, to be truthful, it is more of an exchange rather than an achievement. The expense is the feminism movement's sturdy reputation. The claim that discrimination against women should disappear was, is and will be right. However, from now, whenever feminist movement is pushed forward, many people will check on involvement of Megalia first. If Megalia is involved, some will doubt the true nature of the movement.

Was it a worthy exchange? As we see people enraged by "dangerous" Megalia, it is hard to answer positively.

Let me propose a question. A strategy is a means. It is supposed to be changed if cons outweigh pros. Is Megalia capable of changing their "mirroring" strategy? Or would they even consider changing what they are doing in the first place?

Of course, such questions would be valid only if Megalia is still for feminism and not indulging in the pleasure of immoral mirroring. People are arguing. What is Megalia's true face?
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