South Korea has been one of the most ambitious and progressive countries in Asia in the last fifty years. Its ancient culture has adopted, for better or worse, many western ideas and systems. Along with the changes in commerce have come alterations in human behavior and attitudes, including a recent softening toward homosexuality and lesbianism by means of high tech communication and age-old drama. According to one source, the modern gay community can be traced to the 1970s. But it wasn’t until 1991 when Shappo, an American soldier who treated her lesbianism as a badge of pride, formed the first visible gay group here. Two years later, a Korean-American gay man established the first Korean gay and lesbian co-gendered group. Since then the Korean LGBT community has been gradually moving away from the underground scenes in Itaewon and Jongro. Increasingly, LGBTs are entering the mainstream especially at universities, forming clubs and cafes and increasingly on the Internet as groups are present across the country. Now more than 30 universities, including Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Busan University have gay and lesbian clubs. Some 20 gay and lesbian cafes and pubs dot Seoul’s Itaewon district. Others are popping up in the neighborhoods of Shinchon and Hongdae, as well as in the cities of Incheon, Anyang, Bucheon and Ansan. The Gyeongsang and Jolla provinces, and even Jeju Island, have establishments for gays and lesbians now. For more information on the gay and lesbian scene in Korea, visit the following websites:


Korean Queer Culture Festival