A South Korean lesbian is suing a group of online trolls who posted hateful comments on an article about her marriage.
According to a feature in the Washington Post Kim Kyu-jin and her now wife, who wished to remain anonymous, got married in New York City last year, since same-sex marriage is still not legal in South Korea. Despite the fact that their marriage was not considered valid upon returning home, they still held a traditional Korean celebration, known as a “factory wedding.”
Throwing this factory wedding was an act of resistance, Kim said.
“By doing a factory wedding, I thought that I might give a message: that we’re just people, we’re just Koreans, we just want to get married like everyone else. So it was a political choice.”
The celebration garnered national attention, and Kim began to give interviews. One article, on the news page of popular South Korean instant messaging app KakaoTalk, yielded 10,000 comments, the majority of which were negative.
The comments ranged from expressions of fear that the couple would inspire more lesbian weddings to demands that they leave the country to comments that were more directly threatening.
But Kim refused to take the comments laying down. She found a lawyer and is suing the people who made the one hundred most vicious comments.
Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in South Korea, and there is still vehement public opposition to same-sex relationships, even though the relationships themselves are legal.
According to Equaldex, a 2019 poll found that only about 16% of South Koreans would feel comfortable with a gay family member. About 39% of South Koreans would feel comfortable becoming friends with a gay person, and only about 10% say they know a Korean LGBTQ person.
In 2017, now South Korean President Moon Jae-in voiced opposition to same-sex marriage during his presidential campaign. In a small step in the right direction, though, he has also said more recently that he believes discrimination against the LGBTQ community should not be tolerated.
There are other glimmers of hope as well. A 2017 Gallup poll found that 90% of South Koreans support equal employment opportunities for LGBTQ people.
Indeed, Kim told The Washington Post that she thinks things are slowly changing. When her wedding planner asked their venue if it would host a same-sex wedding, for example, the owner replied, “‘It’s the same money, what’s the big deal?’”
“I’ve learned that Korea is very capitalist — everything is consumer first,” Kim said. “I think the private sector is beginning to look at gay people as customers.”