Gay festival enters fourth year with panache

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Gay festival enters fourth year with panache

Under the slogan “Liberty and Equality for All,” the Korea Queer Culture Festival is gearing up for its fourth annual staging June 17.
“The gay community is not the only minority out there, and we wanted to share this event with all,” says Soh Jun-myeon, a festival official.
In the festival’s first year, 50 people marched in the parade, held in Itaewon. Cooperation from city officials was hard to come by, Mr. Soh said, but each year, “it does get smoother to produce, though it’s still hard.”
Until last year, organizers mostly sought to draw gays and lesbians. Then interest poured in from many different organizations offering to help. About 300 people marched in last year’s parade, with another 200 or so onlookers on the sidelines. At this year’s festival, which runs to June 30, organizers are expecting participation and attendance to swell.
The parade officially kicks off on June 19, starting from Jongmyo Park in downtown Seoul. Since the 1960s, this district has been known for its underground gay scene. Other festival events include an art exhibition, movies, a party and a debate.
The focus of the debate, set for June 25 at the Korean Artist Federation in Nakwon-dong, is whether gay marriages in Korea are a possibility. Recently, a gay couple tried to register their marriage here and were turned down. The topic will also touch on international trends in legalizing gay marriages.
The art exhibition will be larger in scope than last year. To handle the growth, organizers have changed the venue from Art Cube near Yonsei University to Style Cube Jinnari near Hongik University. Participating artists, who will be showing photographs, paintings and installation art, include Nana Queer Star, Moguno, Seo Han-ju, Jang Mi-ra and Ji Ni-a. Titled “body.q,” the exhibition runs from June 17 to 24.
The film festival will be screened at Ilju Art House and Art Cube in Gwanghwamun. On the schedule is the Taiwanese movie “Good Bye Dragon Inn,” directed by Ming-liang Tsai. In the movie, the Fu-Ho Grand Theater is about to shut down, and for its final screening, the 1966 martial arts film “Dragon Inn” is screened to an audience of ghosts and gay men. Slant magazine called this movie “a beautiful love poem to the movies.”
The 2003 Taiwanese movie “Fei Yue Qin Hai,” also known as “Love Me, if You Can” by Alice Wang is a tale of star-crossed lovers. In Kei Shu’s romantic comedy, “A Queer Story,” released in 1996 in Hong Kong, Law Kar-Sing, a closet gay, is, ironically, a marriage counselor living with his boyfriend, an openly gay hairdresser named Sunny. His parents are pressuring him to marry when he finds out that Sunny has been having an affair.
Other movies are “Formula 17,” “Boy Briefs,” “Men in Love” and “The New Wave of Japanese Eros.” All movies will be subtitled in Korean, a few in English.
On June 19, Queer Festival celebrants will kick up their heels at G Spot in Itaewon. For more information on events, visit

by Joe Yong-hee
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