South Korea may have just experienced the first big-name celebrity to come out in the past two decades.
Back in 2000, South Korean actor Hong Seok-cheon came out as gay. This was a major scandal back in the day, as there were no other prominent openly gay celebrities in Korea. To this day, that still remains the case. While a few singers or professional video gamers have come out as LGBT since, such as the gamer EFFECT, the solo artist Holland, or the former pop singer Hansol, most were independent artists without mainstream following. But just recently, a famous trot singer has come out as gay.
On the 10th anniversary of his debut, South Korean singer Kwon Do Woon came out as gay. He did so through an official statement which read:
“I wanted to speak up as a representative voice of sexual minorities and wanted to open up the prospect of coming out more widely in the entertainment industry. I hope to continue representing the LGBTQ community in my role.” He then also took to his Instagram with the hashtags #Gay #TrotSinger, writing, “I was so surprised to find a flood of news articles about me this morning. Thank you all for your support. I will work harder.”
Trot singer Kwon Do Woon comes out as gay on his 10th debut anniversary, the first male celeb to come out in 20-yearshttps://t.co/W5qVymGvwX
— allkpop (@allkpop) October 6, 2020
“I received inspiration from chef Hong Seok Cheon. Although I do not know him personally, I had the chance to meet him several times and he gave me courage,” Kwon Do-woon said in an interview with OSEN, according to ZAPZEE. “When we met for an unofficial occasion, I was able to see a very happy side of Hong Seok Cheon. I thought it would be best for me to come out when I had nothing to lose, so I did it.”
According to AllKpop, Kwon Do Woon first gained national recognition for appearing on the tv competition National College Student Trot Contest in 2009. On that show, Kwon won the composition prize, the lyricist prize, and the grand prize. Kwon then became nationally recognized for his trot music, a traditional genre within Korea that emphasizes vocal inflections and repetitive rhythms. A year later, Kwon released his debut album and spent the next ten years working as a singer and celebrity personality.
Now, with his coming out, Kwon Do Woon is creating more representation in a country that greatly needs it.