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Filmmaker plans campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in South Korea

Filmmaker plans campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — An openly gay filmmaker in South Korea on Wednesday said he plans to campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in the conservative nation, while announcing plans to marry his partner of nine years.

Kim Jho Gwang-soo, 49, said he wants “to convey the message that all sexual minorities should be given rights equally in a beautiful way,” and that he plans to wed his partner, Kim Seung-Hwan, 29, on Sept. 7.

Kim Jho Gwang-soo (left) and Kim Seung-Hwan
via Facebook

While his marriage will be largely symbolic — since same-sex unions are are not legally recognized in South Korea and being LGBT carries a significant social stigma — Kim said that would not deter his plans for seeking an official marriage certificate following his wedding.

“It will most definitely be denied. But then I will file a constitutional appeal… and I will fight to legalize gay marriage,” he said at a press conference in Seoul.

“Gay people have rights too, and hating people for who they are is wrong,” Kim said, adding that he believed attitudes in South Korea were beginning to change.

“In 10 years we could have a gay president or mayor,” he said.

Kim Jho Gwang-soo has directed a handful of films that were well received by domestic audiences, and came out in 2005 during a screening for one of them. When not producing movies, he advocates for LGBT rights.

In 2008, he wrote and directed his first short film “Boy Meets Boy” and in 2012 set up a production company, “Rainbow Factory,” that specializes in gay cinema.

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Some South Korean LGBT activists doubt Kim’s marriage would do much to change the country’s cultural views on LGBT issues.

“I support his personal choice, but I don’t think it’ll change anything,” said Yu Sang-geun, a 25-year-old gay Seoul student and activist with Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights in Korea, the nation’s largest LGBT rights group.

“South Koreans’ understanding of gays is very stunted,” said Yu. “Kim’s decision could be the foundation of more things to come, but there is so much to do regarding gay rights.”

Some South Korean lawmakers have pushed the country to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law that would embrace LGBT rights, but amendments have foundered due to conservative Christian legislators who oppose recognition.

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