Korea is known to be conservative and intolerant of the LGBTQ community, which is due to the influence of Confucianism in their culture. Thus, the dramas and films they create heavily focus stereotypical characters and relationships. LGBTQ characters are rarely represented in the storylines. Although Korea maybe late and still underrepresent this minority, it is notable that there are dramas leading the change in their society’s perspective of the LGBTQ.
The Harsh Perspective on LGBTQ
Through the years, it cannot be denied how much K-Dramas have become popular. Not just in Asia, but all over the world. However, if you notice, you barely encounter LGBTQ characters due to their culture and their hostile misconceptions about that particular group. With this kind of societal pressure, individuals who are part of the minority couldn’t be more scared to come out of the closet or for their secret to be discovered.
While many people celebrate and enjoy the LGBTQ festivals regardless of their gender, this community still faces a lot of discrimination. “Some Christian groups stage anti-LGBT demonstrations. They hang banners declaring that homosexuality is sin, same-sex unions would spread AIDS across the country, and gay unions would create chaos in Korean society. Christians, however, are not the only people who oppose the LGBT community in South Korea. A recent controversy over a transgender soldier suggests that many Koreans are still hostile to gender minorities.” In addition to this, an experimental survey by Macromill Embrain showed that many Koreans find it uncomfortable having any homosexual individual as coworkers, neighbours, and most of all, family members.
Here we can see the gravity of people’s double standards and it’s interesting to know that some are even part of religious groups. Do they teach discrimination in church now? The reality from those news and survey results show the difficulty of changing their country’s cultural mindset.
A Change in Perspective
Here are some K-Dramas featuring LGBTQ characters
Recently the entertainment industry has been introducing characters that represent the LGBTQ community. The dramas and films are starting to present them with even better storylines. Hopefully they can help transform Korea’s harsh perspective with an understanding and supportive one.
1. Itaewon Class
This is a story featuring determination, perseverance, dignity, and valuing people regardless of gender, race, past, etc. More than a story about the journey to success, Itaewon Class is an eye opener about racial and gender discrimination. It is also a big step in trying to change Korea’s perspective on that.
As the title implies, love is not always perfect because people also come with their own flaws. Beyond the flaws and what other people say, this story portrays the pursuit of friendship, love and acceptance. These are heavily featured in the romance story of gay bartender and another guy.
3. Moment at Eighteen
This is a drama that focuses on the moments we often experience at the age of 18. It is a season where feelings seem like the most important thing. And one of the characters featured here is a boy who acts a bit awkward and distant towards his girlfriend. It turns out that he was acting that way because he finds himself attracted to another guy. Despite experiencing discrimination after his secret was made known publicly, he was still accepted and befriended by people who thought that his sexual preference was no big deal.
In this very popular drama, a tomboy is mistaken to be a “boy” by a rich and arrogant cafe owner. After working together day after day, the boss falls in love with the “boy” and becomes confused of his sexual preference. He tries to avoid it at first but ended up confessing his love. Despite the unconventional idea of a man in a relationship with another man, he still showed how love makes people look beyond physical and gender preferences.
5. It’s Okay, That’s Love
This drama is about Psychiatrists who are helping patients get through traumas, depression, etc. while facing their own psychological ordeals. One of the patients in the story was a transgender. He is being treated for being physically and mentally abused by his family because they cannot accept his unconventional choices. What’s even more alarming is the idea that he deserves to be abused because he “understands” where his family is coming from. Come on, we all know it’s not right to hurt others whatever gender preference they might have.
6. The Boy Next Door
A mini drama that puts a spotlight on the bromance of two college boys in the eyes of their common friend. The two boys are forced to live in one house where their awkward moments eventually lead to a better friendship and maybe bromance.
A group of female students play detective roles to solve sensitive issues teenage girls encounter. More than that, this series shocked Korean society by showing an on-screen lesbian kiss!
8. Reply 1997
This throwback story shows how a group of friends ended up living their current lives by looking back on their high school days. This portrays the kind of love built on friendship. One of the main characters is gay and likes one of his best friends. But despite his hidden feelings, their relationship stays the same because their friendship mattered more than sexual preferences.
A multi-generational family is put at the spotlight of this drama. The story revolves around their personal, social and relationship struggles. In addition to that, this also features the coming out of a homosexual character and how his family eventually accepts his preference.
They are human beings just like you and me
Although Korea has a long way to go before they fully accept and welcome gender differences and preferences, these dramas are the start of that important change. Let us remember that the LGBTQ community are human too, just like you and me, even if it goes against societal norms and culture.
They just have unique preferences, compared to others. That is not a reason for them to be discriminated, isolated and cornered to the point of wanting to end their lives. They deserve to be loved and befriended for who they are and not be shunned just because of their gender preference.
It’s okay if we don’t agree and accept all or some of their actions. It’s alright if we feel uncomfortable around them because of our religious beliefs. But, that doesn’t mean we should treat them any less humane; that does not give anyone the right to judge and punish them. It will not kill us to be kind and humane, you know.
If they are violating God’s words, then the judgement and or punishment should be up to Him and not us. It may not just be Korea but hopefully any other country or anyone who discriminates against others, should keep this in mind— if you were part of the LGBTQ and experience what they are going through, how would you feel?