Feminism, LGBTAIQ+
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The legacy of Kim Bo-mi, South Korea’s first openly lesbian student president

 

Interview with Kim Bomi, 26 December 2015
Video from HuffPost Korea

This is a follow-up post to my previous post on Kim Bo-mi’s election at Seoul National University (November 2015).

Kim, the first openly lesbian student president at Seoul National University and in the country, discusses her coming out prior to launching campaign activities as both a symbol of resistance towards the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” atmosphere in South Korean society as well as to be true to herself. Her primary concern before making the decision to come out to the public was on how her family would be impacted by her decision, since everyone, not just her friends and family, would be able to know that she was lesbian.

But in the end, Kim decided that it was worth taking the risk. She hoped that her example would encourage those who wanted to be true to themselves, while acknowledging that those who chose to keep their private lives private should have the right to do so – and it seems that she has succeeded.

In the Huffpost interview, Kim talks about how coming out to the public has changed people around her and how diversity manifests itself in having respect for others who hold different opinions from ours. A high school friend who had told her homosexuality was “abnormal” contacted her after seeing her campaign and apologised for being ignorant. A friend who does not understand homosexuality has nevertheless promised to “pray for her”.

Others have followed suit. In March 2017, Baek Seung-mok, of  Sungjonghoe University, came out to the public as part of his campaign for student council presidentship. His thoughts mirror those of Kim, particularly on how he was “taken for granted to be straight” and how he had to endure male students’ “locker room banter” on fellow women students.

Baek has also been engaged in Sim Sang-jung’s campaign in the 2017 presidential elections, and identifies as a feminist. He states that South Korea needs politicians who are feminists who are not “just feminist with their words” as well as politicians who are part of the LGBT community.

Kim, who has finished her term as student president at the end of 2016, has resumed being a “regular student” and discusses life behind her time at the student council. She plans on attending law school and becoming a human rights lawyer. Voicing her opinion on feminism, Kim points out that fears of sexual harassment pervade the lives of young women, that women continue to be discriminated in the job market, and that everyone must work towards making the country more equal.

References

[HuffingtonPostKorea Interview] Kim Bo-mi, South Korea’s First Openly Lesbian Student Council President
[허핑턴포스트코리아 인터뷰] 한국 최초의 커밍아웃한 성소수자 총학생회장 김보미
www.huffingtonpost.kr/2015/12/28/story_n_8872682.html  

 

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