BY Julie Jones | Sep 03, 2015 08:36 AM EDT
The cover photo for the September issue of Maxim Korea has generated considerable controversy and prompted a petition calling for its removal from newsstands. According to Yahoo News, that Avaaz.org petition has almost 10,000 signatures.
The cover shows "Oldboy" actor Kim Byung Ok standing next to the half-open trunk of a car. A woman's legs stick out of the trunk and her ankles are duct-taped together. The visual implies she is either the victim of a kidnap, sexual crime or murder or perhaps all of the above. The text identifies Kim as "The Real Bad Guy" and said that women love bad guys.
The cover was widely criticized online and in the media. Claire Hodgson of Cosmopolitan UK called it "the worse cover idea of all time."
According to Hodgson, the cover glamorizes violence against women.
"It is dangerously blurring the idea of a 'bad guy' who maybe has a bit of stubble and doesn't text back when we want them to, with a man who has presumably kidnapped and murdered a woman and shoved her in the boot of his car."
Jezebel.com's Jia Tolentino also addressed the issue with both sarcasm and outrage.
"Very nice. Pretending to murder scantily clad young women is persistently "in style" among screenwriters and creative directors, and of course, actually murdering women is an edgy yet mainstream trend that just won't quit."
Tolentino pointed out that violence against women is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly.
A spokesperson for Maxim U.S. spoke to The Huffington Post about the cover choice.
"The cover and corresponding feature published by Maxim Korea is deeply troubling," the Maxim U.S. spokesperson said. "We condemn it in the strongest terms."
The inside spread continued the crime theme. It showed Kim, whose last role was playing a loan shark in "My Beautiful Bride," pulling a woman from the trunk and later throwing the body into a garbage bag.
Maxim Korea defended its choice to the Korean media by saying that the spread was designed to convey a mood. The magazine said that the photographs were designed to illustrate the concepts of kidnap, murder and abandonment. Here's what they said in an interview with the site Women You Should Know.
"As you see in the context of the cover, we show a heinous crime such as murder or the abandonment of a dead body but the image does not depict sex crimes. Films direct scenes for delivering a story and mood. We hope you can see the cover as expressing a crime scene to show the context of this issue."
The site also reported an online post by a Maxim editor who said they were not fantasizing sex crimes and if they wanted to glamorize rape, they would have used So Ji Sub in the photo shoot. That implied the crime would not be a crime if the actor was handsome.
Model Jung Doo Ri, winner of the Maxim Girl contest in 2014, was quoted in the Korea Times as saying: "I was supposed to be a model for Maxim's cover this year, but I gave it up after I realized this magazine's views on women. Maxim beautified serious crime via this photo and I am seriously concerned about its abusive notion about women."
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