A new gay web series from South Korea is on the horizon, but will it reach Western borders?
According to Korean entertainment news source Soompi, Korean entertainment companies W Story and Energedic Company have announced a joint producing project in the form of a gay web drama. Specifically, the project was announced as a BL, or Boys’ Love, drama. The term BL is more typically used in Asian entertainment sources to imply gay content created for teen and female consumption. That said, this project seems to be inviting a larger viewer-base.
The web drama is called Where Your Eyes Linger and will tell the story of two late-teenagers named Tae Joo and Gook. Tae Joo, played by Han Gi Chan (a former contestant on Korean reality talent show Produce X 101), is the “black sheep” son of a successful family-owned business conglomerate. Tae Joo is protected by friend and bodyguard Gook (Jang Eui Su of Korean dramas Bad Papa and He Is Psychometric). As time goes by, the professional relationship-turned-friendship transitions again into something even more intimate.
Again, this film seems to be looking for recognition from audiences beyond the typical Boys’ Love demographic. The series’ eight episodes, each spanning only 10 minutes, will begin premiering online on May 22. The series will then have a director’s cut released in theaters in June. Speaking of the director, the series will be directed by Hwang Da Seul. Hwang Da Seul wrote the web drama Love As You Taste and won an award at the Catholic Film Festival in 2018 for a short film called Spring in Summer.
With that in mind, perhaps this BL web series is looking to potentially air on the festival circuit. If so, perhaps it has a chance of reaching Western audiences in indie/arthouse cinemas. If not, we’ll at least get to watch it in the web series format. In addition, the film may perhaps reach the ears of Asian LGBTQ streaming platform GagaOOLala, which is expanding its service to 190 countries worldwide. With GagaOOLala already expressing its desire to be a platform for queer web series and indie films looking for a wider audience, a partnership with Where Your Eyes Linger may make sense.
It’s also important to note the significance of a Korean BL web drama. While other Asian countries like Japan or Thailand are well-known for their live-action BL content, Korea is not as fortunate. The country has a booming BL web comic business, but movies, web series, and tv shows are less common.
Perhaps the reason for this is South Korea’s complicated atmosphere around LGBTQ life and representation. While nowhere near as hostile in censoring LGBTQ representation as neighboring China (like the canceling of popular web series Addicted the Series), South Korea still holds anti-LGBTQ policies like the arrest of soldiers found having gay sex. We’ve also reported on how military higher-ups conducted witch hunts for gay soldiers. One trans soldier was even infamous fired in January (with a weeks’ notice) after coming out. That said, it is legal to be gay in South Korea and the country is slowly accepting LGBTQ life. Though, that comes with some pushback like Christian protesters at LGBTQ parades/events.
Ultimately, this is to say that live-action content from South Korea is a great step in creating representation. On top of that, the series is planning to release both online and in theaters. If they push further, the production companies could reach even bigger audiences through the indie film festival circuit or streaming services. Hopefully so. And if so, a small story of a rich boy and his bodyguard could become something much grander than ever first anticipated.