Korean Literary Prize Reignites Criticism of Homosexuality

A scene from the 1999 Korean movie, "Memento Mori"

A scene from the 1999 Korean movie, “Memento Mori”

The announcement of the winner of the Yook Woo-dang Literary Prize has reignited the debate about accepting homosexuals in Korea. The prize, which was awarded by the organization Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea, recognizes notable LGBT writing in Korea and is dedicated to the memory of Yook Woo-dang, a gay man who committed suicide in 2003 at the age of nineteen. The Seoul Sinmun‘s interview with the winning author ended up attracting almost two thousands replies, the vast majority of which expressed their hatred of homosexuals and criticized the author for accepting their “perversion”. Critics didn’t spare any detail in explaining exactly which sex acts they despised and how they felt thinking about them.

According to a survey by the Korean Sexual-Minority Culture and Rights Center, 76% of young Koreans who identify themselves as belonging to a sexual minority have considered suicide and 58% have attempted suicide.

From the Seoul Sinmun:

Homosexuality is just a matter of people liking other people… is that unnatural?

[Excerpt from short story] “Hey, the principal said you need to go to the guidance office.” The young boy silently got up from his seat and walked to the guidance office. “Hey you, you crazy idiot, what have I been hearing about you lately? Who is it that you like? Why would a boy like another boy. Are you a pervert? Or, what is it, are you mentally ill? Why would you try to kiss a normal guy on the lips. God, you’re so dirty, I’m speechless.”

“I just wanted to write a normal love story,” says Lee Eun-mi, who on April 22nd was announced as the winner of the first annual Yook Woo-dang Literary Prize for her short story, “Flying in the Dark Night”. The main character, a man named Do-ryeon, faces deep-seated discrimination and endures great hardship before he is finally able to start dating another man. According to Lee, “homosexuality just means someone liking someone else…it is not homosexuality that is abnormal or unnatural, rather it is the society which tries to make it so which is itself abnormal and unnatural.”

Lee Eun-mi, the winner of the Yook Woo-dang literary prize for LGBT writing

Lee Eun-mi, the winner of the Yook Woo-dang literary prize for LGBT writing

The Yook Woo-dang Literary Prize was held in honor of the tenth anniversary of the suicide of nineteen-year-old Yoon Mo (pen name Yook Woo-dang) in April of 2003. Yook cited frustration with the discrimination he faced as a member of a sexual minority in his suicide note, writing, “if my death can bring any enlightenment to the Christians who hypocritically carry on about Sodom and Gomorrah, then it will not have been in vain.” Yook also wrote a poem about his life:


The world calls us monsters

So we live in hiding

But aren’t we human beings?

Lee says that the coming out in 2000 of actor Hong Seok-cheon was what inspired her to think more about minorities. “Reading about the suicide of Yook Woo-dang, I began to think about the suffering of sexual minorities growing up within our repressive educational system.” In regards to the debate about the removal of the clause within the Student Human Rights Act prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, the author says, “just like watching Kim Soo-hyun’s drama didn’t make all the viewers gay, young people should be able to make a mature decision…getting rid of discrimination is not just the responsibility of gay people, it is the responsibility of mainstream people as well.”

The 2010 drama, "Life is Beautiful", caused a controversy when it showed two male characters in a loving relationship

The 2010 drama, “Life is Beautiful”, caused a controversy when it showed two male characters in a loving relationship

‘People talk about women’s rights as a yardstick for a nation’s human rights. I think that you could replace the word “women’s” with gay, disabled, and worker’s and it would still be valid. A society that makes its weaker members unhappy will make everyone else unhappy as well.

Comments from Daum


It’s unnatural. If 90% of the country says it’s unnatural, doesn’t that make it unnatural? Why do you keep trying to call something that’s unnatural natural? I don’t want to bash them or care about them. They should just not show off their abnormal sexual preference in public. It’s unnatural.


Shit, I get it, just stay living in the shadows among yourselves and don’t come out to the light. If you don’t like it, move to a country where homosexuality is legal. The court of public opinion holds more weight than the constitution. Just put up with it and live in silence, you gays and lesbians.


Really, isn’t the real point of homosexual love homosexual sex? Including anal sex.. Don’t try to sugarcoat it. As you get older, you won’t be able to hold in your feces and you will have to wear a diaper because you’ve ruined your sphincter. And that isn’t unnatural?? And that’s not just a minority who develop those bowel problems, it’s a majority of older gays.

뒤집어도 똑같네님:

Yes. It is unnatural! Women, the handicapped, and part-time workers all have strong connection to human rights but sexual minorities do not. It’s a perverted sexual appetite, not inequality.


If your parents had been gay, then you could never have been born!!

세계로 날아보자님:

They’re crazy, these homosexuals, creating fuss in society.


Do only minorities have rights here? You spew out some crap about people liking people and how that’s not a problem…so if someone was a kleptomaniac, then you would have to forgive their stealing? Kleptos are born that way…And stop trying to influence the media to make it seem like only minorities suffer discrimination…Don’t carry on painting people with proper mindsets as criminals or amoral people, preaching about human rights…Try to remember that it is also my right to say that I hate such abnormal acts.


Of course, it’s unnatural…men liking men, women liking women, we all know that’s unnatural…don’t go on about human rights…


Honestly, I hate gays. It’s not so much that I hate them personally, I just hate their irrational victim complex. You say it’s just an issue of human beings liking human beings? As if! The fundamental issue is their homosexual sex. Don’t go so far in trying to make their indulgent lifestyle look proper. It’s so abnormal. You complain about the rights of the minority, is it only the minorities that have rights? Is it alright to ignore the rights and opinions of the majority that thinks their behavior is inappropriate? The words women, disabled, or laborers may be linked with human rights, but it doesn’t apply to the word homosexuals.


You aren’t sexual minorities, you’re sexual deviants. Do you think it is appropriate for a man to like a man? Maybe in other countries they might have tons of mentally ill people and let their world go crazy, that’s their problem, but I won’t put up with bastards like you in our country. We are still not so polluted a society as to allow that. I am worried for the future of this country.


Normally love between two people of the same gender is called friendship. But friendship is completely platonic and will never turn into love no matter how close the two people get. There will never be any licking, sucking, plunging, or rubbing. Some of the empty-headed females around here accept a twisted image of homosexuality and will always reproduce the positive things they hear and try to apologize for them. This is very wrong. Homosexuality is not a matter of liking someone of the same gender, it is feeling aroused when you see someone of the same gender and it is perversion.


Stop the bullshit! It’s disgusting!


Like somebody below me already wrote, the essence of homosexuality is sex. In typical relations with someone of the opposite sex, there can be such a thing as platonic, although of course it isn’t easy to achieve^^. However, between homosexuals, there is no such thing as platonic love. The whole purpose is sex. That is why it is appropriate to say that homosexuality is a type of sexual deviancy. And yet these days it seems like there are so many gays around.


It’s a shame that there are so many writers around these days who try to cover up their weak writing skills by using sensational topics.


Their brains must be insane…homosexuals…


It looks like our country still has a long way to go before it reaches maturity…even if you don’t understand homosexuality…you should at least be able to empathize with such people’s pain…In other countries, they talk about racial discrimination…here, discrimination is based on education level, money, but it’s all the same.


Love should be expressed differently depending on who is the object of that love.

Share This Article
Help us maintain a vibrant and dynamic discussion section that is accessible and enjoyable to the majority of our readers. Please review our Comment Policy »
Personals @ chinaSMACK - Meet people, make friends, find lovers? Don't be so serious!»