South Korea: ‘As interest and support for LGBT grows, I feel that hatred and opposition get tougher, too’

Interview with Kim Ki-hong (35), co-head of the organizing committee of the First Jeju Queer Culture Festival

Jeju hasn’t had a Queer Culture Festival before. Why did you decide to hold the festival in Jeju?
The first Jeju Queer Culture Festival will be held in Jeju on Oct. 28. Jeju is the fourth city in Korea to hold a Queer Culture Festival following Seoul, Daegu, and Busan.

The Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF) is an LGBT festival that has been held annually in Seoul since 2000. This festival then developed into the biggest LGBT festival in Asia. In 2009, Daegu held its first Queer Culture Festival and the Busan Queer Culture Festival will be held in September for the first time.

While many people took it for granted that an LGBT festival would be held in Daegu and Busan after Seoul, nobody expected that Jeju would be the next in line.

In Jeju, the Queer Culture Festival has been organized by a few people from a (non LGBT) civic organization and when I started to participate as the co-head of the joint organizing committee, it became more regularized.

I guess the reason why I became head is that I am from Jeju (I currently I live in Jeju) and I have experience working for the Queer Culture Festival. I am also an Amnesty International member. I didn’t hesitate to take the position and the Seoul Queer Culture Festival Organization Committee's help is a great encouragement to me.

Do you have any message that you wish to convey through the queer festival? What is the ultimate aim of the queer festival?
The festival is about making Jeju more comfortable with LGBT people. If you attend the festival, you will see there is nothing special about the life of an LGBT person.

Once you get used to seeing them, you will see that they are not much different to you. Sexual minorities already exist on Jeju, they just haven't made an appearance yet.

It is just like the reason that you might not be aware of the people with disabilities around you is that they cannot show up by themselves. It is not because they do not exist.

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