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Recognition of Homosexuals in Korea
Yoo Seung-ju  |  jubabe.yoo@gmail.com
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승인 2012.01.09  20:03:01
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Recognition of Homosexuals in Korea
There are three major categories of sexual orientation; homosexual, hterosexual and bisexual. Some people don’t understand homosexual for the reason that the majority of the people are heterosexuals, but we must be willing to listen more carefully to minorities as well. How is Korea doing in this aspect? Korea has been somewhat conservative towards new cultures,owing to deep-rooted Confucius influence. Compared to the past where homosexuals couldn’t even come out, perception of homosexualshas improved a lot but we still need to work on this problem.
 
In 2000, Korean celebrity Hong Suk Chun’s “coming out” caused a stir. Until 2000, Korean society had no clear concept of homosexuality and on the internet; rumors were rampant that AIDS is the disease spread by homosexuals. Hong Suk Chun, who showed up on several TV shows was nowhere to be found on the screen after coming out. Not only that, he had to suffer considerable mental distress because of internet bullying and that his celebrity friends left him after his announcement. When Kim Ji Hoo, a former model and actor, also announced his homosexuality and got fired from his job, he received numerous malicious comments from internet users which led him to commit suicide.
How are things different now? It is certain that stigma of homosexuals is being overcome. Homosexual movies like “A Frozen Flower” (2008), “King and the Clown” (2005) were released, and from 2000, the Korea Queer Culture Festival, an event celebrating LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexuals and Transgender) culture is held. Also, Choi Hyun Suk, who was a candidate of 18th Congresswoman, who proudly stated that she is a lesbian. Seeing that Mass Media, which has enormous impact on the public dealing with homosexuality issues and public figures announcing their homosexuality, we can conclude that unconditional hatred and ignorance towards homosexuality is slowly fading away.
 
Gay life in different regions of the world varies by culture. In some countries, gay marriage is legalized and homosexuals can enjoy a long and happy marriage.  Whereas homosexuals in some other countries don’t have equal legal rights as heterosexuals do. It is difficult to accurately pinpoint the percentage of homosexuals because some homosexuals don’t like to say it publically, or because of society pressures they cannot. However, statistical data shows that from 4 to 10 percent of any population is gay. What kind of social atmosphere makes homosexuals in some countries from hiding themselves in the closet?
 
         Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuals and their behavior according to Wikipedia. We often hear news about hate crimes targeting homosexuals, especially around Nag-won dong, Jong-Ro-gu, Seoul where lots of gay people gather. However, these hate crimes don’t get reported often because homosexuals are afraid of showing their sexuality even to the police. It is unjust that there are no laws that protect the rights of minorities like homosexuals. Korea’s Discrimination Act does not yet include sexual orientation. There are never ending disputes about whether homosexuality is natural or not.  But regardless, it doesn’t do any harm to others, so their rights must be protected as well.
 
         To fight these discriminations, constant struggle is the key. During the 1970s in Cuba, right after the communist revolution, there existed severe suppression and discrimination against gays, but through constant fights of human rights activist Cuba started to change. In the 1980s the Cuban government made laws granting them the same status as other members of society, offering free sex-change surgery and so on. Consequently, Cubans started to perceive gays in a more friendly way. Also, the Netherlands, the first country to legalize identical-sex marriage decided that elementary school students receive the education about homosexuals. They have decided this way because in the society creating social atmosphere that only heterosexuals are normal because they are majority, children will grow up thinking homosexuality is something that they avert from. Not being able to understand why homosexuals love same sex is ok, but it is wrong if one cannot respect different kinds of love. The Korean government must be more willing to protect the rights of homosexuals, following the world’s trends towards legal recognition of homosexuals.
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