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September 28, 2022 6:00 AM EDT

Park Ji-hyun was appointed interim co-chair of South Korea’s Democratic Party this March, but it wasn’t the first time she’d shaped national headlines. As a journalism student in 2019, Park worked with a classmate to expose the Nth Room, a vicious and infamous sexual-abuse ring on Telegram. Despite the case’s notoriety, she managed to keep her identity a secret until this year, when she went public to help drum up support for the Democratic Party in advance of national elections in spring. When her party lost the presidency and a wave of resignations followed, Park was named interim co-chair—a Hail Mary pass to boost its appeal among younger voters. Her past advocacy made her a natural foil for recently elected President Yoon Suk-yeol, who was criticized during the campaign for antifeminist rhetoric. She held the position for only a brief period, resigning in June after further electoral losses, but her meteoric rise made her one of the most visible politicians in South Korea. It also gave her a far-reaching new platform with which to advocate for gender equality.

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