Director, partner trade vows

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Director, partner trade vows

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Kim Jho Gwang-soo and Kim Seung-hwan

Gay Korean film director Kim Jho Gwang-soo symbolically married his longtime partner on Saturday, with the couple exchanging vows on a bridge, though same-sex marriage remains illegal in the conservative Asian country.

Dressed in white, Kim and his partner of nine years, Kim Seung-hwan, staged a ceremony on a stage overlooking a stream, with a choir and various artists performing.

Both men made clear they were trailblazing in a society where traditional values keep many homosexuals from coming out, let alone pressing from pressing for legal same-sex unions.

“Now people cannot but call us as a married couple as we have had a wedding,” Kim, 49, told a news conference, holding his partner’s hand prior to the ceremony.

“We want to let people know that gays can marry, too, in our society.”

Hundreds attended the two-hour ceremony, dubbed, “Kim Jho Gwang-soo and Kim Seung-hwan’s Righteous Wedding,” which featured the partners reading their vows and singing to illustrate their love story.

Proceedings were disrupted briefly when a man rushed the stage and tossed food onto members of the choir. Yonhap News Agency later identified the man as an elder in a Christian church. He was detained by police.

Kim announcement in May he was holding the event made him the first Korean show business personality to do so and only the second to come out. The other, an actor, says he regrets his decision.

Although homosexuality is not illegal in Korea, pressure to marry someone of the opposite sex to continue the family bloodline is strong and leads many to hide their sexual identity. Gays and lesbians have been subject to hate crimes.

New Zealand last month became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize gay marriage.

Kim said he would formally apply to have his marriage legally registered. Some lawmakers have backed an anti-discrimination law that would embrace gay rights, but amendments have foundered due to conservative Christian opponents.

Kim has directed a handful of films well received by domestic audiences and came out in 2005 during a screening. He co-founded a production company “Rainbow Factory” with his partner that specializes in LGBT-themed movies.

The couple said they would use the traditional wedding money gifts they received to launch a center for LGBT issues.

Reuters

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