Lesbians in drama test society's limits

Friday, August 19, 2011 0 comments

[Intern Report]

Characters from the KBS "Drama Special - The Daughters of Club Bilitis" converse at a Korean bar. Online replays of the TV drama, based on the lives of three lesbian couples, were removed three days after it aired. Provided by KBS

KBS aired its first program with a lesbian theme, "Drama Special - The Daughters of Club Bilitis", earlier this month, showing how domestic networks are challenging the nation's traditionally conservative society and its oft-cited distaste for gay people and culture.

However, online replays of the one-act drama, based on the lives of three couples and named after America's first lesbian rights organization, were pulled three days after it aired on Aug. 8 due to public pressure.

Ten years ago, homosexuality was such a taboo subject that the very idea of mentioning it in Korean media would have been implausible. However, with the arrival in recent years of figures such as transsexual pop singer Harisu, nee Lee Kyung-yeop, the entertainment industry is starting to show more recognition for groups long perceived here as sexual deviants or mentally troubled, with more gay characters now popping up in Korean soaps.

And while gay men were the first to pop up on the entertainment radar, even appearing in critically acclaimed dramas like "Life is Beautiful" (2010), lesbians are finally finding an on-screen voice after years of underexposure.

"Korean society is heterosexually oriented", said Jung Im-hwang, a research fellow at the Korean Women's Development Institute. "It identifies homosexuals with males. In this situation, it is more realistic to say that lesbians don't exist. In a patriarchal society, lesbians find it difficult to come out".

Yet Korean culture still presents significant roadblocks for sexual minorities, with those who admit to being gay often doing so at the risk of losing their jobs, friends or families.

Despite the positive feedback from critics, which by and large applaud the insight the drama provides into the experiences of lesbians in Korea, many viewers have expressed their opposition to the show. Parents of teenage viewers have reportedly visited the KBS office in Yeouido, central Seoul, to file complaints. One viewer went so far as to say, "This drama is a crime against humanity".

These responses have manifested themselves online, with over 3,500 posts on the drama's Web page. This led to its cancellation on Aug. 10, with KBS confirming that it would halt replay services.

"Korea will move in [a more open] direction, but it will take time", said Jang Seo-yeon, a human rights lawyer for sexual minorities.

By Charles Junwoo Park

Source : joongangdaily.joins.c... ( English Korean )


Post a Comment

Korean movies


©Copyright 2011 Korean Entertainment | TNB