A gay novelist is in the midst of major controversy, and the pulling of his book sales, after he outed gay people without their consent.
South Korean author Kim Bong-gon is known for writing autofiction, fictionalized autobiographies, such as Summer, Speed and The 11th Young Writer Award Collection. But according to the South China Morning Post, those novels are being taken out of publication after several people say Kim included their personal information. Specifically, two people expressed their outrage on social media and said that Kim used private text messages as source material for his stories.
“Can we define it as literature only because it is titled as a novel even though it took advantage of a person’s private text messages and life as materials, which ended up outing and hurting someone?” asked one of the accusers on Twitter last week about Summer, Speed. “I want to publicly say this is exploitation.”
After tweets about the situation started to go viral, Munhakdongne Publishing announced the discontinuation of Summer, Speed’s publication.
“We confirmed that there were complaints against author Kim Bong-gon’s novel Summer, Speed on social media and Kim admitted it. To prevent further damage and take additional measures over the situation, we decided to stop publishing the book and The 11th Young Writer Award Collection. We apologise to anyone affected,” the publisher wrote on Twitter.
Shortly after, Changbi Publishers announced that it would stop publishing collection of Kim’s works called Times and Mood as there were similar problems with the story Such Lives.
“Changbi takes the situation very seriously while listening to the voices of the victims. We decided to suspend publication of Kim’s Times and Mood and will take further measures over the situation. We again apologise to the readers and those unfairly affected,” Changbi Publishers tweeted.
In this case, a woman claimed that Kim had included their private text messages in his book without her consent. The woman says she reached out ot Kim and the publishers, but neither acted on the exploitation. That is, until it became public knowledge.
As you can see in the novel, there are expressions that could cause shame over sexuality and self-loathing. The author writes for a living, but an ordinary person has a life which should remain private,” the woman wrote on Twitter on July 10.
According to the Korea Times, many authors have expressed their outrage with both publishers for supporting Kim, and publishing the books, until public backlash. Now, it looks like Changbi Publishers, Munhakdongne Publishing, and Kim Bong-gon are unwelcome in South Korea’s literary and LGBTQ circles.