Let’s start off by saying that this is a difficult topic for us to discuss for various reasons. Primarily, everything we’re recounting is second hand, as we are neither Korean nor homosexual. And so, we’ve asked our Korean friends of various ages their thoughts about homosexuality in Korea, and have recounted those thoughts in the video. We’ve spoken with our gay friends living in Korea – both foreign and Korean – about their experiences as well, which we have also recounted. This video and post are by no means definitive answers about homosexuality in Korea, because our sources are quite obviously limited. We’re hoping that a bigger discussion can talk place in the comments from people who have had experiences with this topic, whether you are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgendered, or ubersexual. Thanks for the term, Super Junior. Ubersexual indeed.

Also, anything you’d like to contribute, be it your own experiences or thoughts on the matter, or other sources that people could use, will be greatly appreciated.

So, for starters, we can say that Korea is not as open to homosexuality as, say, Canada or the USA. There is no Korean Lady Gaga in the music sphere speaking out, and there are not many LGBT rights activists. There are very few openly gay Korean celebrities. The most famous, in our opinion, is Hong Seok-cheon 홍석천, who was fired from all his jobs on TV after he revealed his homosexuality eleven years ago. Since then, he’s successfully opened various bars and restaurants, all LGBT friendly. Sadly, the success he has achieved in promoting awareness of the LGBT community in Korea is not always the case, as several Korean celebrities have committed suicide after revealing their sexual orientation to the public. They were fired from their jobs, and harassed and bullied by netizens to the point in which they felt that suicide was their only option.

This brings us to the topic of Korean dramas. There are a lot of Korean/Japanese dramas that play with the concept of cross dressing, mainly in the form of girls pretending to be guys, which in turn causes the main male role to fall in love with the “guy” and question his own sexual orientation. Out of all the dramas I’ve seen this in, I feel like only “Coffee Prince” (2007) did a good job of portraying the difficulty a straight male would feel if he was suddenly attracted to another man. MAJOR SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN COFFEE PRINCE YET!!! In Coffee Prince, we see the main male lead, Choi Han-Gyul, struggle with his emerging feelings: he refuses to go to work, he locks himself in his room and thinks about his feelings, and he even visits a doctor who recommends medicine as a “cure” for his homosexuality. I especially felt like his visit to the doctor was a sadly symbolic scene as to how some Koreans view homosexuality as a curable disease. In the end, Han-Gyul rejects all these “cures” and decides to accept his feelings towards another man. He eventually discovers that the man he loves is in fact a woman, and – thankfully – he doesn’t just laugh it off, as if it was humorous all along, like I’ve seen in some Japanese dramas (I’m talking about Hana-Kimi, which I generally enjoyed, except for how they dealt with Nakatsu’s emerging homosexual feelings towards Mizuki; it was used as a gag relief joke).

The “laugh it off” or “gag joke” of someone being gay makes me cringe. It came up a lot in Personal Taste (2010) when Lee Min Ho plays a straight man pretending to be gay and also Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010) with – yet again – another girl pretending to be a boy. It’s “funny” that the lead men think they’re gay only because the audience knows that the boy is actually a girl, hence, the boy-on-boy action is not an actually gay couple. Compare these dramas to Life is Beautiful (2010). It deals with various people’s relationships, one of which depicts the difficulties a gay couple in Korea would face. How did SBS deal with a drama depicting a real in-love gay couple? They ended up pissing off the drama’s writer BIG TIME by cutting out the scene in which the couple professed vows of love to each other. Really SBS? It’s okay to joke about being gay when we all know that they aren’t really gay, but it’s not okay to show a happy and committed gay couple? This is the kind of thing that makes us feel really upset.

Even though we know that North American and other parts of the world are still not exactly ideal for LGBT people, we still feel that it’s more accepting than South Korea. As we mentioned in the video, not all the people living in Korea are closed-minded towards homosexuality, but we’re not exactly pleased with what we’re seeing in Korean dramas.

Ah! Sorry if that post was too long. Hopefully we did a bit of justice to the topic. Let us know what you think!

  1. How Korean people do perceive Kpop band? In South America I heard people were seeing them as gay boys, in Canada, well it depends on people of course, but I think we perceive them more like cute fashionable boys and don’t really care about their sexual orientation.

  2. Yeah, stay out of Norway. As a politician there pointed out, a liberal from America would be considered a conservative in Norway. Half of their parliment is made of women, their police don’t carry guns, and the longest jail sentence is a little over 20 years … in a humane enviroment. Their birth rate is higher than US, and recidivism rate is very low, in the 20%, compared to in the 70% in thr US.

  3. Hey Hilary Swank,
    I just wanted to know if you ever got this issue resolved, and how you went about doing it. Did you manage to take legal actions against your aggressor?

  4. Think again, Christian Matsumoto.

    Advocating gay marriage is advocating equal rights. Realize that married people and single people get different benefits, such as employment assistance, lower income tax, joint parenting, domestic violence intervention, family visitation rights, etc. etc. There are a lot of benefits married people have that single people don’t. How is it fair that you can be in a committed 20+ year relationship with someone and not be allowed to visit them in hospital just because you’re both men/women? When people get married, it’s not just about exchanging vows with your lover and partner, it’s getting to society to accept that two people are in a committed relationship; they are family. They are family, so why can’t they get the same rights and benefits other families have?

  5. Very articulate. A native English speaker could not have said it better. Thank you for your enlightened commentary!

  6. A very popular and large Korean Spa in the DC Metro area got a lot of flack last year for refusing service to a transgendered woman, then digging a deeper hole with some insensitive follow-up comments. I love this spa, but haven’t been back since: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/01/spa-world-virginia-discriminates-gay-transgender-customers_n_2792440.html

  7. Two weddings and a funeral is a film that shows the issues gay Koreans face. It was directed by gay korean filmmaker Kim Jho Kwang-soo. I recommend you all watch it, although parts are serious and sad there is comedy as well. As an outsider, south korea’s view on homosexuality is shocking and upsetting but hopefully as time goes on they become more accepting of the LGBT community. Maybe the emerging prevalence of homosexuality in k-dramas and movies is proof of this? I hope so.

  8. What about Antique Bakery!! That was a great Korean movie that has a homosexual them.

  9. I was in Seoul just few days ago and really enjoyed it. Nice city super cute handsome boys everywhere, i really liked it. Now i,m back in Taiwan where i stay for 1 year, surrounded by taiwanese boys who really love westerners and foreigners, and where gays can” be counted cause there r too many. Taiwanese think all foreigners are handsome and perfect, howevere i dunno about Koreans and i’d really like to know if for europeans it’s an easy thing to get a Korean bf.
    I have a good korean friend, when i told her i’m gay she was really surprised because when i knew her few yeard ago i was only attracted to girls. Now i really want to move and stay in Korea for a year first, tahts why i’m asking people living in KOre, wether they r koreans or westerners if it is easy or not to meet date and get in a relationship with a Korean boy, those who look lile the K POP stars haha !
    I hope some people can help me answering my question

  10. The thing that urks me though is that in the US, LGBT advocates can run their mouths off on how Christians hate them or that Republicans/Conservatives are homophobic. I’m a Christian, I’m a Conservative, and I’m not homophobic nor do I hate gays. I just don’t agree with gay marriage; that’s my belief. Then you may say, “Well, gay love isn’t affecting your life.” Yes, I know. However, when Liberals try to pass that off as an excuse for their agenda, why do they cringe at the thought of polygamist marriages or incestual marriages? It’s not affecting others’ lives, so why not allow open marriage to any sorts of marriage?! Hypocrisy! And then there’s the fact that our country voted against gay marriage many times before it was legalized through the courts! What’s the point of us even voting if it is just going to be overruled? Maybe it’s different in South Korea, but this ongoing “war” in the US is warping my mind – and I’m sure, many others – towards a hatred for leftists and gays alike. I mean, I will never truly hate my friends who are liberals or gay, but precautions are always there when I meet someone new with these defining characteristics, and I apologize for that.

  11. i think being gay in korea is the same difficult situations as in in indonesia because many gays in indonesia is still in the closet

  12. Wow….thank you for your input! :)

  13. Hello, Simon and Martina!

    So I’ve only come across your video on Homosexuality in Korea recently, as well as Simon’s response to a comment on his sexuality. I would just like to say that I have so much respect for the both of you and I really think your relationship is something a lot of people should emulate. You guys have taught me so much about love and relationships, and I’ve learned how to value myself properly especially when it comes to having a boyfriend.

    I would just like to share an opinion about homosexuality in Korea. I used to study (I’m currently in my third year in college) in an international school in my country, and I had A LOT of Korean classmates and friends, some brought up here and others migrants from Korea. I found the topic of homosexuality in Korea very intriguing ever since i got into K-Pop and watched several Korean dramas, one of them being Coffee Prince. Growing up with a gay twin brother made me more aware of LGBT rights, and I was curious on how Korea dealt with the topic of homosexuality. I read a lot of internet forums about it, and I was bit put off on how people just argued and really, a lot of them are so sickening to read because everyone was just so close-minded and biased about their own passionate beliefs. I resorted to asking my Korean friends who i kept in touch with about their opinions on the aforementioned topic.

    I got a lot of varied responses, but the one thing most had in common with their answers was that people in Korea each view homosexuality differently, depending on many different factors–how they were brought up, where they were brought up, their religion, and surprisingly, how immersed they are in the idol and entertainment industry.

    Of course some of them said that they were very uncomfortable with the idea, while I have friends who answered that they had very few to zero interactions with homosexuals but aren’t entirely repulsed by it. I think one thing we can derive from this is that one of the major reasons why homosexuality in Korea is some sort of taboo is because a lot of people have very few experiences with it and/or interactions with homosexuals. And since it’s so uncommon because they have no firsthand experience, a lot of people are lead to believe that it’s bad thing. After all, people have this tendency to shun things they don’t fully comprehend, and how can they begin to accept homosexuality if it’s often perceived as foreign and strange and they aren’t made to understand fully?

    On the other hand, a few of my friends said that people in Korea can be a little bit hypocritical about it because it’s sort of understood but unspoken that there indeed are a number of homosexuals living among them, some being their friends or colleagues at work, but it isn’t really an issue and they treat them just as they would a heterosexual friend. The thing though is that it only becomes an issue once that person decides to come out. It’s very disconcerting because I mean come on, nothing is wrong with being gay as long as you don’t come out?

    Lastly, a friend of mine shared an experience with her brother who is a trainee (dunno if he still is) at a company, and he shared his struggles with her, one of them being his sexual orientation. He had a very hard time coming to terms with being gay, and he knew he couldn’t come out to anyone, not even their own parents. But he really felt the emotional burden and all because apparently there are some closeted homosexual celebrities in that company who can’t come out because of work-related issues, and there are a number of trainees and who had the same problems, some of them only auditioning for the reason that they could hide their sexuality. I empathized with her, because I too felt the struggles my brother had to go through, especially during our adolescent years. I’m proud to say that he has come out of the closet and currently fulfilling his dream of being an architect.

    Anyways, thank you so much! More power to the both of you!

  14. Coffee Prince was so wonderful to me, in part, because of their treatment of Han-Gyul’s feelings and acceptance of love, no matter what form it came in. It was beautiful.

  15. I think it’s fine, as in the West, if you are in a gay male bar or disco with your buddies, to avoid straight male creepsters. But maybe stay away from the girl bars. That’s just confusing for everyone! :-)

  16. When I was first getting into kpop, I saw a video clip of Taemin of Shinee being hugged by a male fan and shouting, “I like girls, I like girls!” As a westerner, I was offended by this at first, seeing his denial as homophobia. After seeing the video and reading this article and the comments I see that it’s just that Koreans aren’t as comfortable with homosexuality as many westerners are.

    Most of the specific information in this was about gay men, do you know if there are clubs or bars for gay women in Korea?

  17. Simon and Martina,

    I wanted to comment on your video. I am a gay Mormon (Christian) man in the US who is married to a man. I have had the opportunity of going to both North and South Korea. I wanted to say that I think your experiences shared are quite accurate. There are a few other things I noticed.

    1) In North Korea, they will openly admit that they know homosexuality exists, but will blame it on the West as a “social disease that is ruining glorious socialism”.

    2) You are absolutely right about the younger crowd (25-30 years old)…native Koreans in the US have virtually no problem with LGBT people. I live in Provo, UT, home to Brigham Young University, which is considered one of the most unfriendly schools for gay people in the US. All my native Korean friends who are devout Mormons have absolutely no problem with me being Mormon, gay, and married to a man.

    3) I think what is most interesting is how some people (like you mentioned) don’t even believe homosexuality exists…yet, by my standards, I think there are very feminine actions of male Koreans which can be interpreted as gay. For example, in the KPOP world, I think that most boy bands are very feminine, especially in the way they dress. I know many Korean young men who wear women’s makeup and some wear women’s clothes, and would never associate that with being gay, where in the US you would consider that to be gay. Also, I have seen from my own experience and your videos that many young men have Hello Kitty products, which has always been associated with women in the US, especially young girls. But, they don’t make that association…to them it is just normal. In the US, alot of gay men want a masculine or “straight acting” man, and are turned off by the real feminine attributes of some gay men. In Korea, they seem to fit the US stereotypical role of being feminine, flamboyant, and not afraid to show it.

    Anyways, hope this helps! I love you guys and cant wait to come back to South Korea and hopefully chat over a nice hot bowl of bimbibap.

  18.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120406234458.htm interesting.

  19. “Homo Hill” xD That’s the funniest thing I ever heard. xD

  20. Yes, it sucks to be gay in Korea, but not as much as it sucks to be straight in the West. Britain and the USA are incredibly violent, and physically clinical places and in part this is due to the nature of Western masculinity. While not all Western men are hyper-masculine, you only have to ask a handful of Westerners about skinship or bathhouses to discover how insecure we are with our gender and sexuality. For many Westerners, intimacy, nudity and simply the presence of other males are highly threatening – indeed some schools in both the USA and UK have attempted to ban any forms of physical intimacy (eg – hugging and holding hands). And ask the same group about skinship between adults and children, as you might see in a bathhouse, and you expose a festering unease.

    Yea, I can be gay and proud back in Britain but that doesn’t count for much when a lot of the men are repugnant, violent and aggressive and where you have to be constantly on guard should you choose to spend the evening in town. I should add, I spent five years working in the field of ‘hate crime.’ Despite all the freedoms in the West, and we have a lot less than we think, I’m far safer and happier as a male in Korea – but then I’m 56 and boring and quite content to shelf my sexual identity.

  21. I am confounded by the dichotomy of Kdramas. They constantly cast androgynous and effeminate (at least by Western standards) male leads. Yet homophobia remains an issue in Korean society by large. I lived in Seoul for 2 years and didn’t find Korean males to be well…very manly. 

    I’m not the least bit attracted to any of the popular idols either. They just aren’t very masculine. Of course, there are few exceptions (Rain comes to mind). Again, this must be the result of my own expectation bias. As my perception is tainted by the Western definition (Latin Western to boot) of what “manly” or masculine is supposed to embody. Korean men don’t usually fit that mold. 

  22. I haven’t read all the comments, but another Korean movie is No Regret.  It focused on gays, the main characters and all. It’s probably one of the most gay Asian movie I have seen. And I have seen quite a few lesbian and gay movies heh…. I don’t know how to write that without it sounding weird. But even in Japanese gay movies which there are a lot more of, it seems to never quite get to the issue, but I quite liked No Regret. but I wouldn’t recommend it to younger people, its pretty graphic actually. I have found that movies seem to be more open minded that the dramas. And on Antique Bakery. I really love Kim Jae Wook. I found videos on youtube where he did live music performances from Hedwig and the Angry Inch in drag. My personal opinion is he is more open minded. I really like all your commentary about things Simon and Marina. Thanks for them. Also, I have seen lots of pictures on tumblr in nightclubs where people seem to be gay anyways. So its nice to see at least somewhere where people can be open.

    • You should watch two weddings and a funeral. Its a very touching film that is both funny but serious and sad. I think you would enjoy it :) Also it is directed by Kim Jho Kwang-soo, a gay korean filmmaker.

  23. well i don’t rlly understand what u want to say  ! So korean love to act they are gay , but they are not  , or they are gay and that is very bad in korea ! umm i listen kpop , and there so much korean boys kissing each other etc. so what that mean are they gay or not ! however i love gays xD

  24. hahaha oh my gosh, I am sorry, this is a serious subject, but the beginning where you guys say some old people think its a disease brought by foreigners XD 

    ITAEWON FREEDOM IS ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY??? the things you learn. 

    My belief about homosexuality is that of abortion, I don’t believe people should do it, but we are all free to choose. I enjoyed coffee prince because it was serious, he did seriously consider all the things a person raised in an unaccepting(why the heck isn’t that a word) environment would before finally accepting that he had special feelings for (what he thought was) a guy. And then I love how he wasnt just like “YAY!” when she told him she was a girl, I felt the same way he did, SHE BETRAYED HIM!! well, she didnt tell the truth and he seriously went gay for her… so its like… Yeah.

    According to that drama japan is much more accepting, but i also read a book About Bushido (basically the samurai code, the book talked about how japan still lives very much by the samurai code of bushido: hara kiri, face saving and the like) it said something along the lines of “a good samurai is never found out” it was basically saying having homosexual relations with your samurai buddy (they traveled in twos sometimes) was ok, as long as your wife didnt find out, or anyone else. I found that interesting. 

    • Can you tell me the story about you choosing to be heterosexual?  I’d be fascinated to hear about it.  Since you know, you say everyone has the choice.

      • There is little difference between “believing what you want to believe” and being ignorant. I am a lesbian because I am sexually repulsed by men and sexually/romantically attracted to women. I didn’t choose to feel that way. No one would choose to be gay/lesbian. Why would I choose to deal with ignorant people like you everyday when I could just choose to be straight? Doesn’t make sense does it? Grow up and pull your head out of your ass.

        • Moopies, I had to reply to your comments, because they stink with illogicality. Of course, you’re free to believe anything you want, but we’re free to point out that it just doesn’t hold up to reality. As Xaihtic wrote above, why the hell would gays and lesbians CHOOSE to be that way, knowing their lives are only gonna be harder because of the prejudice and discrimination they have to face? Some homosexuals kill themselves cause they can’t live with it…sure sounds like they chose it, eh? 

          Let me just clear this up: I am a straight male, have been with the same girl for 6 years. Did I ever choose to be straight? OR COURSE NOT! Neither did you. Of course, you can choose to act upon those feelings, but even if you choose to act straight even if you’re gay, YOU’RE STILL GAY! No one wants to live a lie. I would never be able to live as a gay if that’s what society wanted. 
          So Moopies, maybe you’re not ignorant, but you sound like you are. 

  25. Thanks for this fascinating post—I’ve been watching a lot of Kdrama lately and found myself pondering how homosexuality is viewed in Korea. In fact, I just blogged about Painter of the Wind, a girl-dressed-as-boy drama that has some serious lesbian undertones. 
    It seems like a fascinating time to be interested in Korean culture…a lot is in flux there, and in some ways I think we drama watchers are seeing the birth of the country’s future, when it comes to social issues like this.

  26. I wanted to share some stories of my a few of my friends from Korea. Two very different stories and two very different people. I am glad I met them both and I was able to get a small glimpse into two different generations of gay men in South Korea.

    One of my friends (20) is very into western ideas and culture. That’s the main reason why he has a European boyfriend. He recently told me that he had come out to his family. His mother’s first reaction was, “Can you change?” He of course said, “No, I am gay. That is who I am. Nothing and no one can change me.” His mother’s reaction was of no surprise due to the lack of easily available information on homosexuality to the public.  It exists, but it’s not always easy to find. The idea of coming out to anyone is Korea is very negative. Most men believe that right now there is no need to because coming out could be detrimental to them in today’s society. (Korean Gay Magazine “Get” Spring Issue 2008 pg. 68-69) Things are changing, but slowly. My friend told me his mother should get used to the idea over time and that’s really the way a lot of parents deal. It just takes time, even here in the US.

    My other friend (32), he was not as lucky to grow up in such a progressive decade. He was surrounded by people who believed gay didn’t exist in Korea and was treated poorly and with hate if they ever found out. His family is highly religious, so they are heavily against homosexuality and will probably never know their son is gay. Well, his mother died in 2008, so she should know now, but the rest of them, no. And I know for a fact he is dead set on never telling them or anyone really. He is scared and has issues dealing with people and hating himself because of such an environment he grew up in. He has even contemplated suicide on numerous occasions before I met him. Many men his age and older and even some younger men deal with this issue a lot. They were brought up to believe that being gay was an abomination and disgusting. Which is obvious why their self-esteem is so low about who they are and being themselves. My friend has trouble dealing with people and gets taken advantage of often because of his search and need to fit in. Of course, I’ve been helping him as much as I can, but years of hate has been ingrained into his brain and it is hard for him to accept he is who he is and he was born that way. He came to America to try to get away from the hate, but he has ran into it wherever he goes. The US still has ways to go as well, even if it IS way ahead of S. Korea in this issue.

    Obviously, my two friends have had two very different experiences and both have been on the complete opposite extremes of the spectrum. This really goes to show how much progress Korea has made in just ten to twenty years, yet still be so far behind in the rights and acceptance of their homosexual citizens. Hopefully in the future, everything will get better and people will not feel so alone and hated. Maybe they will realize it does get better and they don’t have to give up. They will always have someone here (me) who cares. I just need to make a way to make that known. The day will come soon.

  27. I still think “Life Is Beautiful” was a big step forward in LGBT awareness in Korea. BTW you know the writer of the drama, Kim Soo-Hyun, is like the de-facto #1 legend/queen figure in Korean drama industry. Her dramas are watched by a very wide range of age groups – young and old. And Life Is Beautiful got very high ratings too. So what I am thinking is, these Korean people who are in their 50s and 60s, who’ve never thought homosexuality as some gross mental disease, watching this gay couple on TV going through heartbreaking and very much understandable difficulties and agony because of their sexuality and people’s perception/rejection of it. I think the message they received would be “they are different, they can’t help it, and they lead v difficult life because of this” This drama made a huge leap from any other dramas depicting homosexuality, IMO.

  28. This article is very informative and provide an in depth outlook on the gay Korean community. Much appreciated. I also provide something very similar. Visit http://www.IvanKorean.com. I’ll try to update my blog. Acceptance in Korea is getting better and better. 

  29. Media-wise, I think there’s a lot more acceptance these days. If I’m not mistaken there’s going to be a drama out about two man-woman couples who married each other’s lovers so they would seem “normal”, and of course there’s loads of beautifully written Korean homosexually-themes movies. We’ll have to wait and see how the broadcast station edits it though. 

    (And I’d just like to point out that in Sungkyunkwan Scandal, the homosexual themes are NOT in the main characters. Its in the two male co-stars played by Song JoongKi and Yoo AhIn, which was quite interesting because Joongki’s character admitted that he liked boys, but also said he tried to cure himself..with porn…I’m not sure how that works… The theme of the drama didn’t even focus on the homoeroticism. It was more on gender equality and class struggle. and government conspiracies lol)

  30. I feel that eventually Korea is going to openly accept gays, its going to take time, as older generations mindset is replaced by new, younger gen who are more open minded than before (internet, more contact with other cultures etc…). Its like dog meat, eventually it will go away/ forcing change only makes people more defensive and stubborn.

  31. Ah, blackout, clever indeed!

    I totally agree with you guys on all of this.
    My parents/grandparents (all Korean) do view homosexuality as a “problem” or like “disease,” in turn making me and my brother feel like it was wrong and kind of a scary topic.
    Of course, I grew up and I was able to form my own opinion on homosexuality (I have nothing against it now), but I can’t say the same for the older generation.

  33. I moved to Japan 6 months ago and from what I’ve seen they’re very close-minded on this. I’ve heard stories about the middle-aged homosexual man who will go to a gay-bar on Saturday nights, but be with his wife and kids the rest of the week – the wife has to accept this or she will be dishonored, and he has to pretend to be happy with his situation or again, he will be dishonored as well.

    If you’re homosexual in Japan there’s a lot of places to go to in Osaka and Tokyo, but otherwise not much. I’ve only been to Osaka once (for Super Show 4 – yay!), so I don’t know much about that area, but in Tokyo the Shinjuku 2-chome, from the Kabukicho exit has a lot of gay-bars, where you can meet dragqueens and butch lesbians and whatever. The area is really fun, but also the only area in Tokyo considered dangerous at night – which is still equal not dangerous at all, because it’s Japan and everyone is always nice. I’ve never come across a fight here and you can walk home at any time of the night without being scared.I’m getting away from my point, which is: partying as the homosexual you are fri-sun night is completely accepted. But being homosexual anywhere else than these bars, at any other time is completely unaccepted! Skinship in Japan is so different from what skinship in Korea is. In Japan you will never find to men holding hands, not even two girls – because then they HAVE to be homosexual. It’s even hard to find a hetrosexual couple holding hands, because that is showing waaaaay too much affection in public.Most Japanese people don’t even want to be in a relationship – especially the girls, who feels pressured into sex and who has no dream of husband and kids, because if they get these things their career is over and they’ll spend the rest of their life taking care of the husband and kids.So even though there’s a lot of “yaoi”, anime and real action gay-porn coming from Japan – they’re not openminded about homosexuality. at. all.I’m sorry my comment is so long, I guess I just had a lot to say about the topic ^^;Thanks for a great review of homosexuality in Korea! I can’t way to go to Homo Hill XD

  34. My boyfriend is Korean and is straight…considering I’m a girl.  He never knew any gay people until I introduced him to some of my friends and he is really interested in knowing what their lifestyle is like and he is totally accepting of them.  This isn’t to say he was wary at first.  However, I can only wish other Korean people could be as open-minded as he is.  Even when it comes to western countries and conservative people.  Honestly…if it’s not effecting you, why does it need to be some problem?

  35. Hello Simon and Martina ~ 

    I thought I’d post you this. Its a link to a short film made by Korea Gay Men Human Rights Group. It’s a really nice clip – accepting, and it warns young people about being safe when trying to find a partner. It’s a good watch, very sweet.


    Also, have you watched “Antique Café” ? one of the main characters is gay (played awesomely by Kim Jae Wook (Coffee Prince)). Its a full film and a good watch, but it also has a few scenes that include gay bars and romantic scenes. At one point The gay couple are in bed together (cuddling) – it’s refreshing to see that they were able to keep this scene in.

    Anywho, give them a watch if you have time :)

  36. I used to go to the Rhode Island School of Design, which has a heavy population of Koreans because RISD has an outpost in Korea and often recruits students from there. It also has quite a lot of openly lesbian and gay people. I was friends with a few Koreans, and heard a conversation that went something like this: “I don’t like gay people. If I knew one, I would still talk to them, but I wouldn’t want to be friends with them.” There was an uncomfortable silence and another Korean girl said, “You can’t say things like that at this school.” At that moment I really wanted to say, “Well, what if I told you I was lesbian?” but didn’t say anything. Unfortunately this was the only time I heard the topic addressed, but it stuck with me.

    • so what are you trying to get at? why didn’t you say anything?

      P.S I’m just curious. :)

      • The other girls were clearly uncomfortable with the topic; I’m pretty sure some of them disagreed (or perhaps agreed but didn’t want to offend anyone eavesdropping), but confrontation, in a lot of Asian cultures, even Asian-Americans, is something to be avoided. So I think we all chose not to further the conversation and it kind of awkwardly ended. Anyway, that’s the only experience I’ve had with this topic, and wish I had more to offer–but yeah, hopefully it was an objective contribution to everyone’s experiences.

  37. There are a lot of gay Korean men in Korea.  You don’t see gay Koreans because they do not openly act gay, nor do they identify as gay, they are typically married with children.  However, they do have sex with men, either at sauna’s or love motels or in more seedy places such as gay movie theaters in Seoul.  I have learned this rule of thumb:  If a Korean acts and dresses like a homosexual male would in America he is probably straight.  If a Korean dresses and acts overly masculine there is a chance he is gay (if he is between the ages of 19-30).  Gay Korean men (outside of Seoul) are extremely masculine. It is almost like living in opposite world.  But it is what it is. To give you an example my Korean co-teacher picked me up for dinner last night and when I got in his car it was blaring Backstreet Boys, and on his iphone the wallpaper is David Beckham in tiny underwear and he was wearing a korean version of skinny jeans.  Dude is a straight Korean while in America he would be perceived as gay.  You just have to change your perception of what is gay and not gay in Korea.

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