After our first successful meeting, we decided to go to the movies (in korean ‘movies’: = 영화) the next time. Yooree suggested that we should go to see a Aki Kaurismäki movie. We noticed that the movie ‘Leningrad Cowboys’ is being shown in Niagara theater and both of the girls were interested to see a concert-footage movie so we decided to go see the movie.
After the movie we were all more or less dumbfounded because it was a rather random concert with all the spiky shoes and pompadours combined with some Russian veteran choir! After that we went to Passion to grab a beer (in Korean ‘beer’ = 맥주, “One bottle of beer please!” = 맥주 한 병주세요!)
For some reason, we started to discuss about the gay-culture in Korea and in Finland. I found out that in Korea, being openly gay is extremely rare. In such a big country there are only a handful of celebrities that are know to be gay. Male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in South-Korea, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are currently not entitled to the same legal protections available to heterosexuals and both of the girls hoped that the situation will change near in the future. After further reading about this at home, I also found a following passage about Homosexuality and the Korean army:
“Enlistees are drafted through the Military Manpower Administration (MMA; Korean: 병무청) which administers a “psychology test” at the time of enlistment that includes several questions regarding the enlistee’s sexual preferences. Homosexual military members in active duty are categorized as having a “personality disorder” or “behavioral disability” and can either be institutionalized or dishonorably discharged, although this was recently ruled illegal by a military court. The issue has been appealed to Korea’s constitutional court.
Dishonorable discharges for gay soldiers are a problem since South Korea does not allow for conscientious objection and a dishonorable discharge bears with it significant social pressure, as many South Korean companies will request a complete military service profile at the time of a job application. On military records, the applicants can appear as having been dishonorably discharged either due to their homosexuality or for being “mentally handicapped””
As an active gay-rights supporter, who has attended numerous demonstrations and protests etc., I think it’s sad that in such culturally rich and developed country, it’s still so backwards about LGBT-rights and equality.