Last September, Kim Jho Kwang Soo and Kim Seung Hwan celebrated South Korea’s first gay wedding on a bridge in the capitol, Seoul. Although the union actually had no legal authority, as same-sex marriages are not legally recognized in South Korea, their presence has sparked the movement towards legalizing gay marriage.
Their cause is further promoted by the fact that the Kims are both prominent figures in South Korea’s celebrated film industry. Kim Jho Kwang Soo, 48, is an acclaimed director while Kim Seung Hwan, 29, is a producer and CEO of Rainbow Factory, a production house that is known for producing forms of media with LGBT+ content.
Although their marriage was received with applause and select media outlets celebrated their union, not everyone is receptive to the gay community.
In 2000, when Hong Seok Chun, a famous actor, came out as gay, he lost his career, from TV, film, and radio contracts to any social influence he previously possessed. There was no wonder he was the first Korean entertainer to be publicly out. Although queerness is not explicitly illegal in South Korea, it can be daunting and even dangerous to be out.
In 2007, Pew Research Center Attitudes Survey stated that 18 percent of South Koreans tolerated queer people. Last June, 39 percent of respondents did not object to queer people. Certainly, mere tolerance should not be the goal but these figures portray a slow gradual acceptance of the LGBT+ community.
South Korea’s influential and affluent Christian lobby has been objecting vehemently to the LGBT+ community’s gradual movement. During the Kims’ wedding, a Christian fundamentalist attempted to shower the couple with a mixture of fermented soybean paste and human excrement. Still, the ceremony went on.
However, Kim Seung Hwan is determined to move forward. He wants to challenge the refusal of marriage licenses, which he expects to fail. But after that, they plan to take it to the Constitutional Court. If they win the battle, this would mean a new step in the battle for equal rights in South Korea.
Alice D is a hella homosexual (femme)inist who can be found in her natural habitat of used bookstores and bakeries.
Although most of her time is spent driving through LA’s notoriously difficult traffic, she prefers to read heart-wrenching novels about queers, write about LGBTQIA+ issues, and add to her ever-growing collection of red lipsticks and black shoes.