Korean TV is about to get some much needed gay representation.
According to local news source Daum, Korean actor Oh Seung-yoon is set to appear in a gay role for the upcoming drama Romance is my Nature.
The drama, which will begin airing in July, will be directed by Lee Byoung-heon, written by Lee Byoung-heon and Kim Young-Young, and star Oh Seung-yoon in a minor role.
The series will follow three best friends, Im Jin Joo (played by Chun Woo Hee), Lee Eun Jung (Jeon Yeo Bin), and Hwang Han Joo (Han Ji Eun), who are all in their early 30s.
All three friends are working professionals, Hwang being the head of a tv production company’s marketing team, Im being a drama writer, and Lee being a documentary director. The show watches all three women juggle their careers with their emotional personal lives. Then somewhere in between all that, Oh Sungyoon will appear as an openly gay man.
LGBTQ representation in mainstream Korean tv is very limited, as Gay Star News writes.
South Korean actor and tv presenter Hong Seok-cheon was met with backlash after he came out as gay in 2000. But much like America’s Ellen DeGeneres, Hong was able to turn that controversy around and became an uplifting figure in the entertainment business.
Kpop star Hoya played a gay character in 2012’s “Answer Me 1997.” Unfortunately, the actor was then haunted with constant badgering about his sexuality after playing the role.
Then Korean television had its first on-air lesbian kiss in 2015, which, of course, caused more controversy.
In terms of LGBTQ rights and attitudes in the country, South Korea is probably much like America was in the 1990s. While more of the country’s people are becoming inclusive, especially in metropolitan areas, there’s still a general thought that homosexuality is someone else’s problem.
That doesn’t prevent anti-LGBTQ discrimination from happening in the country, however.
Last year, thousands showed up to celebrate the Seoul Queer Parade (the largest Pride event in South Korea). That said, thousands more also showed up to protest it.
In addition, political leaders have mixed views on LGBTQ rights and issues. President Moon Jae-In publicly expressed opposition to LGBTQ issues before later pulling back and saying its “still a little early to allow homosexuality within the military.”
On top of that, the Korean military still has an anti-sodomy law. In a country that still has a draft for all male citizens, because of the country’s northern neighbor, homosexuality and openly gay men are still banned. As such, anyone caught engaging in gay sex or being openly gay will receive punishment and jail time.
Even worse, 2017 saw military leaders openly conducting a witch hunt when more than 32 men were imprisoned on suspicion of being gay.
In a country that is still so hostile towards LGBTQ people, despite claiming it’s not, any amount of representation is important. So we’re thankful for Oh Seung-yoon in his new role.