Showing posts with label South Korea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Korea. Show all posts

March 26, 2020

Donald Trump Could Never Count Unfriendly Numbers: No, South Korea Has Tested More



                                         Image result for counting numbers, trump




The United States and South Korea had their first cases of coronavirus detected on the same day. The way the two countries responded, however, was very different.
South Korea quickly got tests out, which is being credited with helping flatten the country's curve of its coronavirus outbreak; the United States moved far more slowly, taking weeks to ramp up testing.
Now, the United States has tested more than 300,000 people, government officials touted Tuesday, noting it had passed South Korea in the raw number of tests conducted.
"In a short period of time, we've done more testing than South Korea," President Trump said on an appearance on Fox News Tuesday. Trump added, "We're going up proportionally very rapidly." 
But South Korea has a population of just 51 million people; the United States has 327 million. 
At about 300,000 tests in each country, that means South Korea has tested 1-in-170 people; the United States: 1-in-1,090.
That's more than six times less, per capita, than South Korea.

March 12, 2020

In South Korea Their Newest and Biggest Messiah Has Not Cured Anyone But Started The Hot Zone of Infection





 Credit...Pool photo



SEOUL, South Korea — More than 1.2 million citizens have called for the secretive church to be disbanded. One province asked the public to report church members to a hotline for coronavirus testing. Smartphone apps help identify the church’s 1,100 once-obscure facilities in South Korea, most already plastered with “off-limits” signs by disease-control officials.

Even before the coronavirus scourge, South Korea’s Shincheonji Church of Jesus had faced increased suspicion over its tactics to attract tens of thousands of recruits. But in the month since the church was identified as the epicenter of infections in the country, it has become the target of scorn, vilification and open hatred.

The founder, Lee Man-hee, 88, who has promised its 240,000 members entry to the “new heaven and new earth,” is now the potential subject of a prosecutor investigation into possible murder charges.

Parents of recruits accuse him of “brainwashed slavery.” Former members describe him as another in a long-line of spiritual snake-oil salesmen in South Korea, a fertile ground for untraditional religious sects. 

A large majority of the country’s more than 7,500 coronavirus patients are Shincheonji members in Daegu, a city in the southeast, or people who had come into contact with them. An additional cluster of cases has emerged in Cheongdo, a county near Daegu that is Mr. Lee’s birthplace and a regular pilgrimage destination for his followers.

The church has protested what it called “scapegoating” by South Koreans eager to discredit what had been the fastest-growing religious sect in the country, as other big churches worry about declining membership.

“The entire society has gone berserk against our church since the virus outbreak,” said Lee Young-Soo, 54, a Shincheonji member whose sister, a fellow church member, died after having fallen from her seventh-floor apartment in the southern city of Ulsan last month. Ms. Lee said her sister had confided that her husband’s long-running abuse over her church   had intensified after the virus outbreak.

Another Shincheonji member who church officials said had suffered spousal abuse, a 42-year-old mother of two, died after having fallen from her 11th floor apartment on Monday night. The police are investigating both cases.

“The society is so wrong, and I am so saddened,” Ms. Lee said.

Still, the church is inextricably linked to the spread of the affliction in South Korea, one of the largest outbreaks outside China.
The church’s clandestine nature is part of what made it a focal point for the country’s anger and fear. Officials have struggled to locate and screen church members for the virus.

Kwon Jun-Wook, a senior disease-control official, said last month that when officials had tried to reach church members, they found many incommunicado. Daegu’s mayor said Tuesday that dozens of Shincheonji members must be immediately tested for the coronavirus or face fines. The city of Seoul has accused Mr. Lee and his disciples of failing to provide full membership lists.

“Lee Man-hee is a psychopath who has lied and lied until he believed his own lie that he was the true messiah,” said Jeong Ji-su, a former disciple who left last July.

 'This Messiah Cannot cure You as He Promised'


Mr. Lee is far from the first person claiming to be a messiah in South Korea.

Shamanism — worshiping a multitude of deities including dead parents, ancient warriors and mountain spirits — has infused society for millenniums, interacting with new arrivals like Christianity and making some Koreans amenable to embracing new belief systems, said Koo Se-woong, a scholar who has researched Korean religions.

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“Promising a new world and a ‘New Jerusalem’ in Korea is nothing new among Christian churches in South Korea,” Dr. Koo said. 

As the country has suffered war and deprivation in the past century, 120 self-styled messiahs promising a new world of peace have emerged, 70 commanding sizable followings. The best known is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, who died in 2012.

Some ended up in jail on fraud or rape charges or lived in disgrace after the rapture they had promised never came. But their apostles split and spread, rebranding themselves into new sects. Mr. Lee was one of them.

On the day she first encountered the church in September 2016, Ms. Jeong, 25, recalled in an interview, she had been hurrying through a Seoul subway station. Two friendly looking women and a young man about her age asked if she could spare a few minutes to give feedback on a movie script.

They entered a fast-food restaurant, where her initiation began. She became a full member in July 2017. Ms. Jeong said she had been brainwashed and spent the next two years recruiting fellow young people just as she had been.

Shincheonji recruiters seek converts who might be vulnerable, first uncovering personal problems, like low self-esteem in Ms. Jeong’s case. They offer counseling, building friendship and persuading recruits that Bible studies can help, former members said.

“The entire church was a con job,” Ms. Jeong said. “When they targeted you for proselytizing, everyone who approached you in the cloak of chance encounter was a member of Shincheonji — only that you didn’t know it.”

Other former members report proselytizers approached with free tarot card readings, personality tests and foreign-language classes. 

“Young people are attracted to Shincheonji at times like this when opportunities dwindle because the church raises hopes of jobs as pastors and preachers and promises a spiritually fulfilling life, even promising eternal life and high priestship when the new world comes,” said Kim Seong-Ja, 58, a former member.

Young converts often lived together in cheap crowded rooms, former members said. Dating, or any distraction from the goal of winning converts, was discouraged.

“We were nothing but proselytizing robots,” said Lee Ho-yeon, 24, a former member. “I spent as little as possible on food and used what little money I left in my pocket to buy Starbucks coffee for people I wanted to convert.”

Because of Shincheonji’s suspect image, proselytizers would delay revealing their affiliation until confident that their recruits were ready, former members said.

Once they ​passed written tests after months of Bible studies, converts ​became participants in a spectacular commencement ceremony. Life as a church member included meetings, proselytizing missions on the streets and daily progress reports on how many people they had tried to recruit and how their recruits were doing in Bible studies, former members said.

Worshipers were told to keep their membership secret from relatives. If  parents became suspicious, former members said, handlers had told them to lie.

When parents tried to stop worshipers from attending the church, many left home. Ms. Lee said she ate as little as possible at home in case her parents mixed her food with sleeping pills to get her away from the church. 

“They said it was OK to lie to our parents, as it was OK for moms to call bitter medicine a chocolate when feeding it to a sick baby,” said Stella Seo, 29, who was in Shincheonji for seven years until late 2018. 

The practice of disavowing membership carried over to how at least some church members responded to the coronavirus outbreak. South Koreans were outraged when it was revealed last month that church members had received a message telling them to deny their affiliation with Shincheonji and to keep proselytizing even after the outbreak was reported among its congregation.

Shincheonji said that the instruction was not church policy and that it had punished the official who issued it.

While Shincheonji’s recruitment methods have drawn recent condemnation for helping spread the virus, its approach has long galled more mainstream churches, which have accused it of sending undercover proselytizers, known as harvesters, into their congregations and stealing members.

Sometimes, the harvesters were accused of sowing internal discord in a church and taking it over, a feat celebrated as “moving a mountain” among Shincheonji members.

Shincheonji said that disgruntled former members and traditional churches alarmed over their shrinking congregations had spread false rumors to discredit the church. 

But in video footage of internal lecturing viewed by The New York Times, a proselytizing instructor said that the old way of founding a church and then building a congregation “is too expensive, takes too much manpower and is too time-consuming.”

“It’s better to swallow existing churches,” she said to a chorus of amens. “But you must keep this strategy to yourself.”

Mr. Lee has defended the church’s response to the outbreak, and Shincheonji has issued statements through a spokesman repeating that the church was cooperating with the government and demanding an end to “scapegoating.”

Eo Kwang-il, 38, a Shincheonji member, said that because of overwhelming bias against their church, members hid their affiliation and used ruses to win converts. But he said the church never forced members to abandon school or jobs for the sake of proselytizing.

How the church conducts gatherings, however, has drawn scrutiny as a spreader of the disease. Worshipers sit packed tightly on the floor and attend even when sick, former members say.

“We were taught not to be afraid of illness,” said Lee Ho-yeon, who left the church in 2015. A church leader boasted to followers on Feb. 9 that although hundreds of people had died in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began, no Shincheonji worshipers there became sick, according to the audio file of the sermon released by Yoon Jae-Deok, an expert on religious groups like Shincheonji.

The crowded conditions of Shincheonji churches did make them more vulnerable to contagious diseases, said Hwang Gui-hag, the editor in chief of the Seoul-based Law Times, which specializes in church news. 

But he said that in his view, the central and regional governments, caught off-guard by the virus, had found a convenient point of blame in the church. He said mainstream churches had a vested interest in disparaging Shincheonji, as did the “cult hunters” who demonize the church so that families hire them to remove relatives.

Shincheonji’s followers call ​Mr. ​Lee, the founder, by biblical references like “the Promised Pastor​.” He once gathered his 12 deputies and re-created the scene from the Last Supper.

“It’s embarrassing now to admit this,” said Ms. Seo. “But when I first saw him, I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I wept.”

Ms. Seo said she had felt proud when she and thousands of other church members gathered under a scorching summer sun to practice for the “​world ​​​peace festivals” that Mr. Lee and Kim Nam-hee, a former deputy, organized. Tens of thousands were mobilized to dance, sing and perform.

Ms. Kim, the former deputy, split with Mr. Lee in 2017 and has since called him “no messiah but just a plain old religious con man.” The church called her “an apostate.”

Public officials in Gyeonggi Province sealing one of the 10 Shincheonji facilities in the city of Guri on Sunday.Credit...Woohae Cho for The New York Times
Attempts at ‘Reconversion’

Distressed parents have taken children to  “cult hunters” — activist pastors affiliated with mainstream churches who offer “reconversion” services. In some cases, Shincheonji representatives file a missing person’s report with the police and visit the homes or work sites of relatives to protest.

Both of Ms. Seo’s parents and her brother quit their jobs to stay with her as she violently resisted a reconversion program. Ms. Seo said she had refused to eat for eight days and slashed her wrist and thigh with a razor blade.

“As far as I was concerned, it was a fight against Satan,” she said.

After two months in the program, Ms. Seo rejected the church.

Other families said their efforts to persuade a relative to leave the church had failed.

Doo Song-ja, 64, took her 33-year-old daughter, Hong Eun-hwa, twice to a reconversion program, but she refused to leave the church.

“The only thing left for me is to erase her from my memory,” Ms. Doo said. “But how can I?”

Shincheonji has said that  social bias against it has intensified lately, with members reporting taunting at work and death threats.

“Many church members were afraid to come out and reveal their church membership, given the overwhelming blaming coming from politicians and news media that called Shincheonji the originator of the virus outbreak,” Kim Si-mon, a church spokesman, said in a statement.

The government has repeatedly warned that the battle against the coronavirus depends on how quickly infected church members can be isolated. Mr. Lee has urged them to “follow the government’s instructions,” avoid gatherings and proselytize only online.

Some parents, like Choi Mi-sook, 56, mother of Shincheonji member Kim Yoo-jeong, 25,  remain distraught.

January 28, 2020

South Korea is Our Ally, Defacto Part of NATO Yet The Homophobia There Is Equal to Ours in 1960




Image result for south korea is very anti gay
 Being LGBT in South Korea can make for a difficult life. CNN's Kathy Novak tells the story of one gay couple living in Seoul and the challenges they face.
Images may be subject to copyright. Learn More
On a brightly lit stage, two male K-pop stars with glowing skin and perfectly coiffed hair are nibbling either end of the same long, chocolate stick. 
As the stick gets smaller and smaller, they get closer and closer -- and eventually, a fellow K-pop idol pulls them into a kiss
In South Korea's glitzy, highly manufactured music industry, these kinds of scenes are not uncommon. As long as it's only for show, that is.
Homophobia is still rife in South Korea, where very few mainstream music stars have come out as gay. The country has no comprehensive anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ South Koreans and compared to nearby democracies like Japan and Taiwan, the country is less accepting of same-sex couples. (CNN)


In Seoul, many people enjoy the annual Queer Culture Festival, regardless of their sexual orientation. Started with only 50 people in 2000, nearly 150,000 people enjoyed the festival last year, which marked its 20th anniversary. During the festival, participants urge the government to improve LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights.
While many people hold rainbow flags during the festival, some Christian groups stage anti-LGBT demonstrations. They hang banners declaring that homosexuality is sin, same-sex unions would spread AIDS across the country, and gay unions would create chaos in Korean society. Christians, however, are not the only people who oppose the LGBT community in South Korea. A recent controversy over a transgender soldier suggests that many Koreans are still hostile to gender minorities.
Last week, Byun Hui-su, a transgender tank driver, drew public attention after she was discharged from the Republic of Korea Army after undergoing sex-reassignment surgery. While South Korea bans transgenders from joining the army, it doesn’t have any rule about soldiers who had a sex-reassignment operation while already serving. And until the Byun case, no one in the military had ever changed his or her sex while serving, so this case was unprecedented, and it became headline news. 
Byun said she wanted to serve as a female soldier, but army officials ignored her plea. The army explained that it decided to discharge Byun because of her “mental and physical disabilities.” An army official claimed that the sex-reassignment operation itself didn’t affect the decision. 
At a press conference, Byun said she wanted to prove that anyone can be a great soldier regardless of gender identity. She also charged that the South Korean army still lacks respect for sexual minorities. And she sued the army for discharging her.
Lim Tae-hoon, leader of the Center for Military Human Rights, announced that he supported Byun, opining that the army’s decision to discharge the tank driver was a violation of human rights. “The National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea has to warn against the human-rights abuses, including Byun’s case. And all transgenders should be allowed to serve in the army without discrimination,” Lim said.
But on the Internet, netizens have denounced Byun: The army is right to discharge Byun; the tank driver is selfish and stupid to make a plea to the army, one of the most conservative organizations in Korea, to accept her as a female soldier; other female soldiers won’t want to serve in the army alongside transgenders.
Before Byun’s case was reported, some political powerhouses, right-wingers in particular, provoked controversy by making crass comments against the LGBT community. Last May, Hwang Kyo-ahn, leader of the conservative Liberty Korea Party, said he hated homosexuality. “I was shocked by queer festivals in Korea. I hate the LGBT community. I think Korean society has to oppose homosexuality,” Hwang said. Keum Tae-sup, a politician with the ruling Democratic Party, criticized Hwang’s provocative remarks, saying his homophobic remarks sounded ridiculous.
In November, lawmakers in the Liberty Korea Party, including Ahn Sang-soo, proposed an amendment that would remove sexual minorities from those who are protected from discrimination under the National Human Rights Act. Ahn underscored his view with  controversial remarks: While the world witnesses a surge of AIDS infections, few people can criticize homosexuality because of the National Human Rights Act; it’s unfair to regard criticism against homosexuality as discrimination. Many condemned the proposed amendment and Ahn’s comments as justifying discrimination against LGBT people. 
Last year, for the first time in Asia, Taiwan legalized gay marriage. When the legislature started to debate the motion, politician Jason Hsu said Taiwan was 10 years behind in respect to the LGBT rights. But Byun’s case and some Korean politicians’ comments against homosexuality indicate that South Korea is not just behind but is going backward.

January 11, 2020

South Korean Heart Throb Seugri Will Be Indicted on 7 Charges


 

Seungri
Seugri, real name Lee Seung Hyun

 

The prosecution has filed another request for a pretrial detention warrant for Seungri.

It was revealed on January 10 that the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office filed a request for a pretrial detention warrant for Seungri on seven charges.

These charges include habitual gambling, violation of the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act, purchasing prostitution services, mediating prostitution services, violation of the Food Sanitation Act, embezzlement, and violation of the 

Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment, etc. of Sexual Crimes.
The prosecution previously requested a detention warrant in May on five of the charges, but the request was dismissed by the court. The new request includes the addition of habitual gambling and violation of the Foreign Exchange Transactions 

Act along with the previous five charges.
Court questioning to determine the validity of the pretrial detention warrant will be held on January 13

November 14, 2019

LGBTQ Community in South Korea Fights For Marriage Equality



SEOUL, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- South Korean lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights activists filed a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea on Wednesday calling for greater same-sex rights.
A network of organizations called Gagoonet, or the Korean Network for Partnership and Marriage Rights of LGBT, submitted the mass complaint, which cites violations of numerous economic and social rights in Korea due to the lack of legal same-sex partnerships. 
The petition carried the signatures of over 1,000 LGBT individuals, same-sex couples and family members.
At a small rally outside the commission's headquarters on Wednesday morning before submitting the petition, activists held up signs reading "Happiness" and "Caring" and chanted slogans such as "Not legalizing same-sex marriage is LGBT discrimination." 
Yi Ho-rim, an organizer with Gagoonet, said the group is pushing for the Human Rights Commission, a national advocacy institution, to make a recommendation to the government to introduce legislation for same-sex marriage and partnership rights.
"What we are asking for is the protection of rights for the LGBT community," Yi said.
She added that the LGBT community is looking to raise its profile in a country that remains deeply conservative on a number of social issues. 
"In South Korea, there's still not an active conversation on same-sex marriage or LGBT policies and laws," Yi said. "One purpose of this mass petition is to facilitate a public conversation about same-sex marriage."
Same-sex marriage and other forms of legal partnership are not available in South Korea, and in the military, consensual sex between men is punishable by up to two years in prison, a policy that Amnesty International condemned earlier this year.
In June, Gagoonet conducted a survey of 380 people living with same-sex partners in Korea and found that they faced a host of difficulties, such as exclusion from low-cost housing loans targeting newlyweds and legal rights when a spouse or partner is sick or dies. 
But while legal recognition remains limited, public attitudes have been evolving over the past few years, Yi said.
"Things are changing rapidly because the LGBT community is becoming more visible and many people are coming out to their families, in public, and at the workplace," she said.
At a meeting with religious leaders last month, President Moon Jae-in spoke out against LGBT discrimination in his most pointed remarks on the subject since taking office in 2017.
"A national consensus should be the priority for same-sex marriage," Moon told Christian and Buddhist, leaders. "However, regarding the human rights of sexual minorities, they should not be socially persecuted or discriminated against."
While campaigning for president, Moon drew criticism from rights groups by saying he opposed homosexuality during a televised debate.
At the rally on Wednesday, activists shared stories from their own lives as they called for the Human Rights Commission to formally recommend marriage equality.
Kim Yong-min described his husband's care for him during a long illness.
"My husband has been by my side for a long time as a treasured person who cares for me when I am sick," Kim said. "If this kind of relationship is not a family, what kind of relationship is it?"
Kang Sun-hwa said she was "shocked and saddened" when her son, now 24, came out as gay three years ago.
"I thought my son would get old without anyone to be with him and would be lonely," she said.
She quickly grew to accept her son's sexual orientation but felt she needed to do more to help secure his future.
"I decided not just to stop at the emotional acceptance stage," said Kang, who joined the organization PFLAG Korea, which stands for Parents and Friends of LGBTQ People. "I needed to work for my son to get the rights he deserves. I realized that we need political action to protect same-sex couples."
Same-sex marriage is now allowed in 30 countries and territories around the world.
South Korean activists have looked to progress being made in Asian countries such as Japan, where more than two dozen municipalities have recognized same-sex partnerships, and particularly Taiwan, which legalized same-sex marriage in a landmark ruling in May.
So Sung-uk, a 28-year-old NGO worker who joined the rally on Wednesday, said that coming out in South Korea is still difficult for many, but he found inspiration in scenes from Taiwan.
"When I saw the first married couples in Taiwan crying tears of happiness, I was moved," he said. "I desperately want that here."

October 14, 2019

K-Pop Star Sulli Found Dead at 25






Sulli pictured in February 2019 
The K-pop star Sulli has died aged 25.

Police told the BBC the singer's manager found her dead at her home near Seoul, South Korea. 
They say they are investigating the cause of her death and are working on the ‎assumption that she may have taken her own life.‎
The star, who had more than five million followers on Instagram, was a former member of the band f(x) until she left in 2015 to focus on her acting career. 
Sulli on the red carpet ‎Sulli appeared on a number of TV programmes to describe the online abuse she faced as a celebrity.‎
Some believe the artist, whose real name is Choi Jin-ri, suspended her K-pop work after struggling with the abuse she got online.
She was a "free spirit" according to music journalist Taylor Glasby. 
"She was one of the idols who decided to live her life in the way she wanted to and that didn't always sit well with the general public," she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
In South Korea, pop stars are called idols.
"For idols, everything is about appearance, everything is quite monitored and she just didn't [monitor her content]. She was herself".
"She clapped back and she wouldn't take people's narrow-mindedness". 
Taylor says Sulli's former band f(x) changed K-pop.
"They were one of the girl groups that didn't fit in, they did their own thing. Their music was more hard-hitting. It was innovative and complex, and it helped cement an entire sub-genre within K-pop - girl crush.
"When she left, her legacy became being outspoken. It became taking control of her own image. I admired her spirit to do so despite the constant negativity that was directed at her by some less open-minded citizens."‎
Sulli's former f(x) bandmate, Amber Liu, has posted her shock at what's happened.
Sulli was known for being controversial. She unashamedly told her fans that they had a choice about ‎how to display their bodies. ‎
She was involved in the so-called "no bra" scandal where she showed her nipples on a number of ‎occasions. 
The first pictures appeared on her Instagram account in May 2016 and she faced a huge ‎amount of abuse on social media. 
Last month her breasts were shown by accident during a live ‎Instagram stream - which again caused controversy in conservative South Korea. 
Sulli was good friends with K-pop star Jonghyun, who took his own life aged 27. 
The artist paid tribute at his funeral in 2017.

September 23, 2019

Gay Son in South Korea Told By Mom "I Don't Need A Son Like You"



In South Korea, being LGBTQ is often seen as a disability or a mental illness, or by powerful conservative churches as a sin. There are no anti-discrimination laws in the country and, as the BBC's Laura Bicker reports from Seoul, campaigners believe the abuse is costing young lives.
It was a company dinner that changed Kim Wook-suk's life as he knew it.
{{BBC}}

                           Anti-LGBT protesters at a rally in Seoul
A co-worker got drunk, slammed the table to get everyone's attention and outed 20-year-old Kim.
"It felt like the sky was falling down," Kim told me. "I was so scared and shocked. No-one expected it."
Kim (not his real name) was fired immediately, and the restaurant owner, a Christian protestant, ordered him to leave.

"He said homosexuality is a sin and it was the cause of Aids. He told me that he didn't want me to spread homosexuality to the other workers," says Kim.
But worse was to come. The restaurant owner's son visited Kim's mother to give her the news her son was gay.
"At that moment, she told me to leave the house and said I don't need a son like you. So I was kicked out."  

'Alienated and isolated'

Like so many other LGBTQ teenagers in South Korea, Kim Wook-suk had spent years carefully and quietly trying to hide his sexuality.

He was raised by a devout Protestant mother and taught that being gay meant burning in hell. He listened fearfully in the church as the pastor preached that homosexuality was a sin and encouraging it would bring disease. That's not an unusual sermon in a country where around 20% of the population belong to conservative churches.
But despite being fired and made homeless because of his sexuality, he holds out hope South Korea can change.

Anti-LGBT protesters at a rally in SeoulImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption

Christian anti-LGBT protesters are making their presence felt at gay events like here in Seoul
He proudly showed me his T-shirt with a special rainbow logo on it, one that calls for an anti-discrimination law. He believes this law will one day enable the LGBTQ community to come out into the open safely.

It may also save young lives.

A survey of under-18's in the LGBTQ community discovered that almost half - around 45% - have tried to commit suicide. More than half (53%) have attempted to self-harm. These figures have prompted the LGBT rights organization Chingusai - Between Friends - to run a helpline.
"They usually talk about feeling alienated, isolated, feeling like they are a burden to someone," says Dr. Park Jae-wan, who works in a hospital by day and volunteers to run the Connecting Hearts service at night.

"They feel distant as their teachers, friends, or family do not understand or are ignorant about what it means to be LGBTQ."

The day I met a ‘gay conversion therapist’

Why are some places gay-friendly and not others?
'My colleague asked to watch us having sex'
He believes a more permanent solution must be found to tackle the danger these young people face - and that involves fighting for a new law.

"We need to seriously think about how to embrace sexual minorities and think about what they need," he said.
Homosexuality may not be illegal in South Korea - since 2003 it is no longer classified as "harmful and obscene" - but discrimination remains widespread. Just under half of South Koreans don't want a gay friend, neighbor or colleague, according to one nationwide survey by The Korea Social Integration Survey. 

Media caption why holidays can be tough for S Korea's LGBT community

The proportion of gay and lesbian teenagers who have been exposed to violence is also high. A poll by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea found that 92% of LGBTQ people were worried about becoming the target of hate crimes.

Kim Wook-suk knows this all too well. His mother, he says, kept trying to "save him", but her actions meant he feared his own family at times.

"Using her church people, she tried to kidnap me multiple times to go through conversion therapy. I was forced to go through some of these therapies, however, there were times I manage to avoid them and escaped."

Kim was always looking over his shoulder. He was in alone in a park late at night when he was approached by a man who told him homosexuality was an unforgivable sin and he should return home to his parents, before beating him with a bamboo stick.

He believes his own mother may have ordered the assault as a form of "shock therapy".
"Establishing an anti-discrimination law will send a message to society that people should not be treated differently based on their sexual orientations," says Cho Hyein, an LGBTQ lawyer at Hope and Law, when I tell her Kim's story.

"When a society sets principles, for instance, schools will be able to set responsive measures when kids are bullied. Right now in South Korea, we don't have institutionalized measures to respond to discriminatory situations."

'We should stop them going to hell'

The LGBTQ community has been pushing for change since 2007, and their voices are becoming bolder.

But the same can be said for the opposite side. The Protestant Christian Community is so concerned that homosexuality will be accepted in South Korea that it has decided to hold its first "real love" event in Busan - just a month after the Queer Festival organizers were forced to cancel their own event in the city.

In a statement to the BBC, they said LGBTQ people were "unethical and abnormal" so their discrimination was "the right kind of discrimination".

Woman shouts through a megaphone at Incheon Queer Festival
A woman shouts through a megaphone at Incheon Queer Festival
      
Menorah said she felt a responsibility to stop LGBTQ people "from going to hell"
In September, this influential church group turned up at the Queer Festival in Incheon, South Korea's second-biggest city, in their thousands.

They waved paper fans which said NO to homosexuality and YES to "real love". A huge screen was placed near the Queer Festival square blasting a warning video claiming that encouraging homosexuality would spread Aids and cost taxpayers millions.

Getting to the Queer Festival square involved squeezing through lines of protestors offering a barrage of verbal abuse.
"Homosexuality is a country-ruining disease," one man told me. "If you commit a homosexual act, the country will perish."

Among the protestant Christians was Menorah. All-day, until dark, she yelled through her megaphone from different positions around Incheon.

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I asked her why she was shouting at these festival-goers.

"Because we are Christians. We are not here to blame other people, because we really love our neighbors. Just watching them going to hell is not true love. If we truly loved them, we should say the good news and stop them from going to hell."

I put it to her that perhaps she should listen to them rather than shout at them. But she was adamant.
"If we just proclaim our love of Jesus Christ softly, that is not going to work.

"True love is to stop them from going to hell. We should shout because we don't have time. It is an emergency problem."

Two Western men kiss at the Incheon Queer festival

Two Western Men kiss at the Incheon Queer festival
                

But as the protesters yelled, two foreigners opted to show their solidarity by kissing in public outside the Festival square. 
Two foreigners opted to show their solidarity in Incheon by kissing in front of protesters
Last year, however, the event took a more violent turn. A number of protestors attacked the parade and prevented the festival-goers from marching through the streets.

This year, the police recruited around 3,000 officers to protect just a few hundred people from the LGBTQ community who felt brave enough to join in the event. The presence of embassy staff from the world meant that the police had to ensure the safety of the event.
'The hate is overboard'

South Korea appears to be far less tolerance of the LGBTQ community than its East Asian neighbors.
Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage last year - the first country in Asia to do so. Meanwhile, Japan has elected its first openly gay lawmaker, and despite the current political opposition, a survey found that 78% of people aged 20 to 60 favored legalizing same-sex marriage.

In July, Ibaraki Prefecture became the first of Japan's 47 prefectures to issue partnership certificates for LGBT individuals, raising hope that other prefectures would follow.
The difference in South Korea is a large number of influential protestant groups - although they are not all fighting against expanding rights for the country's LGBQ community.

Pastor Lim BoraImage copyrightPARK KIM HYUNG-JOON

Pastor Lim Bora
Pastor Lim Bora says conservative churches are using anti-LGBT sentiment to rally their supporters

Pastor Lim Bora, of the Hyanglin Seomdol congregation in Seoul, is from one of the few South Korean protestant sects which accept LGBTQ rights. She believes the vocal opposition to an anti-discrimination law is a way of rallying congregations just as the number of church-goers starts to decline.

"The church has used this to unite the congregation. In history, you can see how if you put forth a strong enemy, people will rally and unite behind it. So I think this is why the hate towards homosexuality is overboard."

She has been branded a heretic for her views.
"Regardless of religion, I think an anti-discrimination law should be a basic law for basic human rights. I just hope it becomes a reality soon." 

Media caption Gar South Korean soldier: "I'm constantly afraid"
It may be Kim Wook-suk's best hope at a normal life. In his 20s now, Kim has a partner, and together they dream that one-day South Korean society will accept them as a couple.

He is back on speaking terms with his mother, but they have to limit their conversations.
"She still can't accept me for who I am," he says. "She still thinks a man loving another man is wrong. But I no longer try to argue about this with my mom."


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