South Korean businesses are getting caught up in the country’s gender war

When players made their avatars laugh, talk or give the “OK” sign in “Lost Ark,” they clicked an icon featuring a gesture that might have appeared benign to many: an index finger nearly touching a thumb.

But some of “Lost Ark’s” users began claiming in August that the gesture was a sexist insult against men, and they demanded its removal.

Smilegate — the creator of “Lost Ark” and one of South Korea’s biggest video game developers — quickly complied with the requests for removal. The company removed the icon from the game, and vowed to be more vigilant about policing “game-unrelated controversies” in their products.

A gender war has been unfolding in South Korea for years, pitting feminists against angry young men who feel they’re being left behind as the country seeks to address gender inequality.

Now, though, the latest development in this war is reaching a fever pitch. Since May, more than 20 brands and government organizations have removed what some…

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