Friday, August 12, 2005

Korean Films with Gay Content (Gay Korea Column)

As a continuation of my posts and discussions on gay issues in Asia, I will discuss the presence of homosexuality in Korean film and TV dramas. As everyone knows (i assume) Korea is not a place famous for its gay and lesbian presence or for gay and lesbian rights. In fact, i think it is fair to say Korea is the most backward in terms of gay and lesbian rights and acceptance of homosexuality when compared to China, Taiwan, HK and Japan. In these other countries, after my own knowledge and observation, at the very least gays and lesbians presence is felt in the media and in societal thinking to some extent whereas in Korea there is little talk on the mere existence of Korean homosexuality unlike in China/Taiwan/HK and Japan where at least the existence of Chinese homosexuals and Japanese homosexuals is recognised by the general public.
However, although the Korean media seldom portray homosexuality as compared to the common occurence of lesbian and gay themes in Chinese media and Japanese media(this may surprise some westerners and also asians to know that homosexuality is not THAT taboo in the chinese and japanese media) there have been slight and noticeable progress in terms of portrayals of gays and lesbians in the Korean media in recent years which i have picked up on and which have surprised me. Not only have the portrayals given positive images of gays and lesbian, they have showed KOREANS as gay and lesbians dismissing the myth that only 'degenerate decadent westerners' can be gays and lesbians. I will review recent films which have included some gay content and note these are all mainstream and popular films indicating Korean society may be slowly opening up to accepting at least some gay and lesbian presence in the media given the film production companies readiness in allowing the gay content.
(1) Oh! Brothers (2003) Lee Jung Jae In this box office hit, there was one scene where they showed two korean guys walking into a love motel and asking for a room with a bed. The receptionist thought they just wanted a rest and could not find another hotel but when they requested a room with a bed, the receptionist was shocked and also it showed one guy touching the other guy's bum and other guy all shy then Lee Jung Jae finds his brother who is mentally challenged and the adult brother cries and hugs LJJ leading to misunderstanding by the gay couple and receptionist that they were gay too...another scene also indicated homosexuality where LJJ remembers he and his brother have similar belly button and whilst his brother is in a coma jumps on his bro and tries to compare their belly buttons when the doctor walks in and again misunderstands.....

(2) S diary (2004) Kim Sun Ah. One of my favourite Korean films of 2004 which i shall review in depth in another post but in this film they also explicitly included a gay couple as her best friends and showed them in a loving caring relationship in stark contrast to the straight men who treated her badly and her admiring their loving relationship....they also helped her in her revenge plot and the gay couple were good looking too with overall positive images of gays again..

(3) My Boyfriend is Type B Lee Dong Gun The famous scene where LDG takes revenge on behalf of his gf by pretending to be the gay lover of the teacher and storming in and slapping the teacher in the middle of class and whilst sobbing says 'True love never dies you player!' and then to show that gays too exist in Korea as the audience knows nothing is going on between the teacher and LDG as it was a prank, another male student immediately gets up and says 'you promiscuous player' and bolts indicating the teacher did in fact have a gay relationship.

(4) The Horror Highschool Girls series with Momento Mori being the most famous where lesbianism is heavily hinted at between the two girl's relationships.

All for now but there will be more Korean Films + TV dramas with gay content reviews to come.....

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