Samsung, one of South Korea’s largest business conglomerates and the largest maker of smartphones worldwide, rejected an application from gay hookup app Hornet to be listed in its app store in 2013. In a memo sent from Samsung to Hornet’s CEO, said the app could not be listed because, “due to the local moral values or laws, content containing LGBT is not allowed” in places like the Middle East, parts of east and south Asia, and LGBT-friendly places like the U.S. and the Nordic countries.
This kind of censorship of LGBT content — sometimes under government order and sometimes under internal corporate policies — reveals the paradox of South Korea: It is a hub of international industry, one of the most wired nations in the world, and a democracy closely allied with the United States. But it also has a government that has created an extensive censorship regime in the name of protecting the state from North Korea, with which it is technically still at war, and has extended that apparatus to monitoring “obscenity” and “material harmful to minors” in a way that often silences the LGBT community. Read More