Destination: Korea Queer Culture Festival 2011

Seoul :

Author’s note: in compliance with the requirements to photograph the event, all faces have been blurred to an unrecognizable level, and names of the performers were not revealed. While Korea has a few gay celebrities, the stigma is such that one might lose their job, their position in the family, and more just for being gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgendered.

Author’s note: in compliance with the requirements to photograph the event, all faces have been blurred to an unrecognizable level, and names of the performers were not revealed. While Korea has a few gay celebrities, the stigma is such that one might lose their job, their position in the family, and more just for being gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgendered.

Viva Queer! The 12th annual Korea Queer Culture Festival (퀴어문화축제) took place in Hanbit Media Park in downtown Seoul, with a cast of characters much like previous years. The GLBT scene in Seoul is alive, lively, and kicking despite the stigma from the larger population.

The festival featured a number of GLBT associations, complete with plenty of literature and tables promoting the community – even in the early afternoon several hundred people were taking in the sights – a lesbian couple photo gallery (including a few raunchy bits partitioned off by some fabric), several years worth of ‘Buddy’ magazines, some cheap mixed drinks, and of course plenty of performances.

One of the MC’s for the event.

Some odd-looking sideburns notwithstanding, Catspot sang some Korean songs and at least one English cover.

The bass player… should stick to playing bass.

A quartet of drag dancers – pulled it off quite nicely.

One of my personal favorites – a bit of ballroom switching between lead and follow. The ladies weren’t exactly glamming it up for a grand ballroom, but they worked quite nicely together.


Momento – a jazz dance group, with at least one member doing a passable moonwalk that drove the crowd wild.

Finally time for the main event, the parade started by Hanbit Media Park and followed Cheonggyecheon stream to the space needle.

One of the main attractions – perhaps half of the crowd followed this float, walking and running behind as the duo got hot and heavy.

Guys dressing as girls, girls dressing as guys – with blurs as faces (and with parade-goers several meters back), it’s hard to tell…

A huge rainbow flagno idea what group, but sometimes it doesn’t really matter.

 

Ahh, the impact we have on the young children. She seemed intrigued, to say the least – perhaps it was all the colors, or maybe it was the guy wearing a dress…

The provider of condoms and free AIDS tests, ishap.org.

Talk about making love to the flag – this guy rounded second base with a piece of fabric…

Now back to Hanbit Media Park, where another band had gotten started – 붉은나비합창단 (translates to ‘Red Butterfly Choir’)

This girl could RAWK.

As a place for the GLBT community in Korea to meet freely during the day, it seemed an excellent venture. As a way of connecting with the mainstream community, it was borderline. Sure, there were lots of straight people around, and I had a nice time reconnecting with people I haven’t seen in awhile (a shoutout to Brian over at Kiss my Kimchi!). At the same time, the majority of passersby seemed to stop and stare without really connecting to the purpose. Foreigners were perhaps 10-15% of the audience, but most of the English announcements were those reminding people of the photo policy and where the bathrooms were. I vaguely recall an English-speaking MC last year, and wished I could’ve understood a little more of what went on. Finally, there was plenty of stuff for sale, but not much to eat or drink. Sure, there was an Olive Young nearby and a convenience store across the street, but it would be pretty easy to offer something (a local restaurant could be asked to set something up and split the profits, for example).

For more information about the Korea Queer Culture Festival, see kqcf.org. Don’t forget about the Seoul LGBT Film Festival – in its 11th year, there’s plenty going on from June 2nd-8th.

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks): How do I rate destinations?
Ease to arrive:

Foreigner-friendly:

Convenience facilities:

Worth the visit:

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2011
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