Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Gay Filmmaker Vows To Campaign To Legalise Same-sex Unions 
Kim Jho Gwang-soo, (L) Kim Seung-Hwan
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA -- In a country where homosexuality is not illegal but remains deeply conservative over matters of sexual identity, an openly gay filmmaker plans to campaign to legalise gay marriage starting with his own. At a press conference Wednesday, Kim Jho Gwang-soo, 49, announced his plans to marry his partner of nine years, Kim Seung-Hwan, 29, this coming September 7.
"We wanted to convey the message that all sexual minorities should be given rights equally in a beautiful way," Kim said.
Same-sex marriage is not legally recognised, and being LGBT carries a significant social stigma with few openly LGBT public figures. Kim however, said he would not be deterred and plans on filing for an official certificate after his wedding.
"It will most definitely be denied. But then I will file a constitutional appeal... and I will fight to legalise gay marriage,"  Kim told reporters. 
"Gay people have rights too and hating people for who they are is wrong," Kim said, adding that he believed attitudes in South Korea were beginning to change. In 10 years we could have a gay president or mayor," he said.
Kim has directed a handful of films that were well received by domestic audiences and came out in 2005 during a screening for one of them. When not producing movies, he works for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights advocacy.
In 2008, he wrote and directed his first short film "Boy Meets Boy" and in 2012 set up a production company, "Rainbow Factory," that specialises in gay cinema.
In 2000, film actor Hong Seok-cheon became the first South Korean celebrity in this celebrity-obsessed culture to come out. But work dried up and he has since said he regretted the move.
Kim has been subject to less social disapproval due to being behind the scenes as a filmmaker as he's faced less public exposure but Korean LGBT activists doubt his marriage would do much to change cultural views on LGBT issues.
"I support his personal choice, but I don't think it'll change anything," said Yu Sang-geun, a 25-year-old gay Seoul student and activist with Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights in Korea, the nation's largest LGBT rights group.
"South Koreans' understanding of gays is very stunted," said Yu. "Kim's decision could be the foundation of more things to come, but there is so much to do regarding gay rights."
LGBT people in South Korea have often been subjected to hate crimes. A gay man was sprayed with hydrochloric acid in 2008, while one of Yu's acquaintances was raped while doing his compulsory military service.
Some South Korean lawmakers have pushed the country to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law that would embrace LGBT rights, but amendments have foundered due to conservative Christian legislators who oppose recognition.