With the enthusiastic support of celebrities, especially K-pop singers, the Korean audience’s view of the LGBTQ+ community is increasingly changing positively.
Hankyoreh newspaper reported that Tiffany Young (SNSD) teamed up with Seoul-based LGBT creative collective Neon Milk in a campaign to support Pride Month (Pride month – a month to support, honor and fight for LGBTQ+ community in June every year).
Tiffany and other LGBTQ+ stars including including the first publicly gay K-pop idol, Holland danced to SNSD’s 2007 song “Into The New World”.
Into The New World, which is considered as a symbolic protest anthem for justice and human rights in Korea, thanks to its lyrics showing strength, optimism and belief in the bright future ahead. This time, Neon Milk have used Into The New World as their anthem every year for Pride.
The influence of the entertainers on the LGBTQ+ community
In the video, Tiffany shared her thoughts: “I’ll continuously stand by you and I stand with you as an ally-advocate of the LGBT community. Throughout my career, I have been thinking about ‘Is all of what I have done enough? Can I speak up about this?’ But I think the most important part is being honest and true to yourself.
On June 20th, the male singer Kevin Woo (former member of U-KISS) also expressed his support for the sexual minorities community. Specifically, in his post, the male singer tagged his location as Pride Month and declared his support for The Trevor Project, an American non-profit organization dedicated to supporting LGBT youth.
The male singer Jo Kwon, who has repeatedly shared about the importance of a neutral image to him, also posted a post on his social media account to show his support. In this post, the male singer attached a photo of him wearing a pair of vibrant orange knee-high boots with the words “there is no gender in fashion”.
Tiffany Young, Jo Kwon and Kevin Woo aren’t the only celebrities who have shown support for the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, they’re among several K-pop acts, such as RM (BTS), Yves (LOONA), Moon Byul (MAMAMOO), Vernon (SEVENTEEN), who have also publicly declared to be allies of queer individuals around the world in recent years. In particular, rapper SLEEQ put the rainbow flag in his performance on Mnet’s reality show Good Girl.
Besides, the Korean entertainment industry also shows a positive change as the number of stars who openly declare themselves to be in the LGBTQ+ community is increasing. In 2018, through the debut single Neverland, male singer Holland became the first openly gay male idol. NAVINCI (former member of the group ToppDogg) also revealed that he is asexual in 2017. The two idols mentioned above are both active in the entertainment industry.
Not only young stars, some older artists in Korea also show support for the LGBTQ+ community. Sharing on the Joy of Conversation TV show, the famous host and 94-year-old veteran Song Hae affirmed that Korea had ‘a lot to learn’ from LGBTI events and he feels happy that Korean society is going through a new kind of change.
Even said, the celebrities’ efforts to change social prejudices about the LGBTQ+ community have paid off. Many viewers have a more accurate understanding of LGBTQ+ issues thanks to celebrities.
Korean audiences in the past held a negative opinion of LGBTQ+ people. However, many people now applaud celebrities who demonstrate support for the LGBTQ community.
Jo Kwon, for example, released fans’ letters thanking him for his support for the LGBTQ+ community in a social media post. One viewer expressed his admiration for Jo Kwon after seeing his positive approach toward the community and his enthusiasm for the drag culture.
ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT IN KOREA
The LGBTQ+ community is seeing a lot of positive improvements in the Korean entertainment industry. Undoubtedly, there are still many negative misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ community in Korean society, particularly when it comes to celebrities.
In May, according to Hankook Ilbo, actress Kim Jung Hwa under fire after she accepted the role of a lesbian in the movie Mine. Some viewers believe that, as the wife of a well-known missionary, the actress should devote her time to evangelism rather than acting.
Neon Milk’s video was released on June 16, just two days after the number of signatures supporting the petition to implement the anti-discrimination law surpassed 100,000 signatures.
In 2006, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea proposed a law to eliminate discrimination in the country. However, 15 years later, this law has not been enacted due to opposition from some Christians.
According to Hankyoreh, major churches in South Korea have led the public to have a negative view of the anti-discrimination law. As a result, politicians delayed the enactment of the law because of the “lack of consensus in society”.
Many Koreans, however, disagreed with this viewpoint. According to them, achieving societal agreement does not require waiting, but rather actively taking steps to achieve it.
Some argue that, unlike the West, Korean society is still not prepared to implement this rule. In response, reporter Lee Seung Han stated that the West was not a welcoming and tolerant environment for the LGBTQ+ community at first.
Sexual minorities in Korea are still stigmatized and discriminated against in society. If passed, the Anti-Discrimination Act would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, physical disability, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and a variety of other factors.