The Maxim Korea September Cover Glorifies Violence Against Women

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M. Jung, a WYSK reader based in Korea, reached out to us today to share this image of the September cover of Maxim Korea, telling us “Maxim is beautifying a heinous crime in this photo, and I am seriously concerned about its abusive notion towards women.”

Well, we are too.

Actor Kim Byung-ok is the cover model for this “Bad Guy” themed story, and adding another layer to the appalling image, the headline translates to, “Women like bad guys? This is a real bad guy. Are you dying to love it?”

The violence depicted on the cover has not gone unnoticed by activists who have been commenting on the Maxim Korea Facebook page. A group has also started a petition to get the magazine to apologize and withdraw the cover.

One of the magazine’s editors has uploaded a post that is mocking the critics, saying they are off base and that the magazine is “not fantasizing sex crimes.” Specifically, one of the editor’s wrote, “If we had really wanted to beautify (sex crime), we would have used Jiseop So.” M. Jung tells us that Jiseop So is “a really famous and good-looking actor in Korea. This sentence directly implies that girls would want to be raped, as long as it is a handsome guy.”

With statistics of violence against women continuing to escalate worldwide, media outlets must take responsibility for images that normalize and perpetuate the problem. This image is not “artistic expression,” rather it demonstrates the lack of understanding of this pandemic.

The Maxim Group is owned by Biglari Holdings, a Texas-based company run by 37-year-old Sardar Biglari. Women You Should Know reached out to Mr. Biglari’s office as well as the magazine’s corporate office for comments, but our requests have gone unanswered.

Interestingly, Maxim U.S. has a female editor-in-chief. Kate Lanphear, who was previously with T Magazine and Elle, joined the team last year with the ambition to make the book more “female friendly.”

In an interview with New York Magazine, she was asked about how Maxim will appeal to more women, and responded:

“With a more realistic kind of experience, something that’s relatable, and showing who women really are… I invite female readers! We’re trying to build lifestyle, general-interest content curated with a guy’s guy in mind, but I hope any story that we’re doing is compelling enough to transcend gender.”

Guess Maxim Korea didn’t get the memo.

“They clearly don’t take women’s voices seriously. We need your support and the support of many people to make Maxim understand that glorifying violence against women is not acceptable,” M. Jung concluded in her email.

UPDATE 9/4/14

Maxim Korea Apologizes, Recalls Deplorable September Issue, Pledges To Donate Profits

UPDATE 9/1/15

We’ve received some additional images from the shoot and the magazine posted a statement to their website.


0006 closeup


Magazine statement

(translation provided by our contact M. Jung)


I am Youngbi Lee, the editor-in-chief of Maxim Korea.

The September cover of Maxim Homme aimed to show Byoung-ok Kim (who is one of best actor’s who plays cruel villains) directing a scene of film crime with him.

As you can see, in the context of the cover we did depict the crime of murder and body abandonment in a film noir way, but there’s no hint of a sexual offense in the picture, and no fantasizing of sex crimes either.

Unlike some people’s concerns, we never intended to beautify sex crimes as sex fantasy.

Films direct scenes for delivering a story and mood. We hope you can also see the cover as expressing a scene of crime to show the contexts of this issue.

Thank you.


Take Action

Sign the petition

Post or tweet Maxim Korea Facebook/Twitter

Post or tweet Maxim U.S. Facebook/Twitter

Contact Maxim corporate

Call Biglari Holdings 210-344-3400

  • gesa

    This image is not “artistic expression,” rather it demonstrates the lack of understanding of this pandemic.

  • Callan Elliott

    Can’t help but feel that this was a movie promotion and the situation in question was simply showing a villainous character doing something villainous… in context it makes perfect sense

    • yuu

      Sadly it is not movie promotion. The male model did act as a villain in several movies but this cover and the photos are not shot for movie promotion.

      • Callan Elliott

        Even still, I’d hardly think that this is glorification of any crime, if it’s what he’s known for then why not?

        And anyway we can’t have freedom of expression without the bad bits as well

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