Latest Posts

How healthy is South Korea’s LGBT community (literally)?

Dr. Seung-sup Kim of Korea University’s Department of Public Health Sciences and his team have been investigating the mental and physical health of LGBT individuals. The two-part project, entitled “Rainbow Connection” is a groundbreaking, comprehensive research into the LGBT community.

For now, a journal article entitled “Health disparities between lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults and the general population in South Korea:  Rainbow Connection Project I” is available (on the LGB of LGBT), with a sample of over 2,000 individuals. A monograph on Part II, focusing on transgender health, is planned for publication in March 2018 (Korean).

Key findings (numbers rounded to nearest digit):

  • Lesbian and bisexual women reported poor health 1.80 and 2.24 times more frequently than women overall, while gay men and bisexual men do not show statistically significant differences;
  • As compared to the general population, bisexual women showed the biggest difference in both mental and physical health issues, followed by lesbian women, bisexual men and gay men
  • LGB adults, both women and men, reported significantly higher prevalence of musculo-skeletal pain (back pain, upper and lower limbs pain), with figures nearing or exceeding double that of the general population;
  • LGB adults were 5 to 7 times more likely to show symptoms of depression;
  • LGB adults were 7 to 38 times more likely to think about suicide, and 12 to 9 times more likely to attempt suicide;
  • LGB women were 6 to 7 times more likely to be smokers than women overall, while LGB men were much less likely to be smokers than men overall;
  • LGB women and men were 1.5 to 2.2 times more likely to engage in hazardous drinking


Dr. Kim’s articles are open-access, and he has published findings and personal commentary on the research project on his Facebook page as well as on  ScienceOn at Hankyoreh (Korean).

Here is the link to the journal article, “Health disparities between lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults and the general population in South Korea:  Rainbow Connection Project I”:


Epidemiol Health 2017; 39: e2017046.
Published online: October 19, 2017

Image: Dr. Seung-sup Kim speaking at a press conference denouncing the practice of “homosexuality treatment”. Link to article (Korean): ScienceOn at Hankyoreh



A concise and thorough summary of the LGBT community’s hardships in South Korea, featuring the 2017 Seoul Queer Parade.

Matt Lemon Photography

[97] Jesus © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Snapshot(s)* from the biggest-ever Queer Parade at Seoul Plaza. Seoul, South Korea. © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Despite a military crackdown on gay servicemen, politicians refusing to enact anti-discrimination legislation, and fundamentalist faith groups engaging in “Homosexuality Countermeasures”, South Korea has just witnessed its biggest-ever queer parade. A recap of the last six months in LGBT news.

Not later, now!

On July 15, 2017, members of Korea’s LGBT+ community and their allies came together for the biggest-ever Queer Parade, highlight of the annual Korea Queer Culture Festival (퀴어문화축제, KQCF). Now in its 18th year, the festival has seen its attendance skyrocket from some 50 people at the inaugural event in 2000 to this year’s turnout of a whopping 85,000 people. Not minding the, at times, torrential rain, the crowd first gathered at Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall, before marching and dancing through Jongno-gu

View original post 1,983 more words

“For Vagina’s Sake” (2018)

“For Vagina’s Sake” is a documentary where women of all ages from South Korea and beyond gather to discuss what it means to menstruate, how to menstruate well, and why it has been taboo to discuss an everyday event. The film also shows the ingenious ways women have dealt with menstruation and menstruation products.

Kim Boram, a first-time director, wanted to find the answers to a simple question: “Why do we use different menstrual products?”. Throughout her two-year shooting period, Kim learns how different women use different products: the sanitary pad reigns supreme in South Korea, while a Dutch woman has never used a pad but instead has used tampons since her first bleeding, one woman has not had her period for years thanks to an IUD, and others discover the menstrual cup.

Women of different ages talk about how they dealt with or currently deal with their own periods. Older generations of women in South Korea tell youngsters how they used to deal with cloth pads: soaking the in their own urine, which also bleaches the pad. Younger women show a menstrual cup to older women for the first time.

Breaking taboo on the screen, Kim hopes to lift the veil that women’s monthly bleeding has been shrouded in for the past centuries on the peninsula, and in the world.

Seoulsearching Day 4: Yoeonhui-dong

Yeonhui-dong is best known for Yonsei University, the country’s prestigious private university, which was founded, like many others, in the 1900s by American missionaries. The school, while known for its liberal politics and vibrant student culture, also requires all students to enrol in religious studies courses (“Chapel” classes), regardless of their faith or study programme.

Young South Koreans love coffee / There should be more dustbins in public spaces

A giant Hello Kitty for a Hello Kitty-loving friend. I had to inform her that HK has proven to be inspired largely by Miffy/Ninjntje.

Sunset on campus

A view on Severance Hospital

Yeonhui-dong is definitely part of Old Town Seoul.

A stack of cartons which symbolise the elderly poverty issue in South Korea.

See Korea Exposé’s “No Country for Old People” (14 Sept 2014, by Se-Woong Koo) and NPR’s “A Forgotten Generation: Half Of South Korea’s Elderly Live In Poverty” (10 April 2015).

Cheap cool drinks for the hot summer

Belgian beers seem to be making their way into South Korean hypermarkets

Gone are the days of the Hite and Cass duopoly – craft beers are the new trend (except for when it comes to somaek)

The view form Yongsan Station

Another 40+ storey building

Seoulsearching Day 3: Not In Seoul

(Pictures by Emily Singh)

Militarymen out on a holiday. South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35 must undergo a compulsory military service of between 2 and 3 years. They’re paid dismal wages, with one report estimating they’re paid less than a thousand won (0.80 euros) per hour.

One of the first things I do when in South Korea is visiting my grandmother, who lives in Chuncheon. It’s an hour’s train ride away from Eastern Seoul, or an hour and twenty minutes with the subway. I prefer the train since it’s a double decker, and that just seems cooler. The price difference is quite big though – about 3,000 KRW for the subway and 6,000 KRW for the train.

Sometimes I take the bus and end up passing places like this that I forget exist in Seoul.

Or this. Somewhere in Yongsan.

My aunt, who is a florist, has recently started looking after abandoned kittens she found near her shop.

My grandmother, who is hyper-modern, hyper-capitalist, hyper-Catholic and also superstitious, obviously hates the cats.

An advert for “Yeongkwang Daema Industrial Complex” (“Daema” also means Cannabis, whereas here it seems to be the name of a region)

Public phones can sometimes be found in large train stations, but often fail to work properly. Here is my outdated student ID which also doubles as a T-Money pass. I’ve stopped using the card years ago but don’t want to buy a new transport card.

Seven years later, I’ve found my old school uniform!

And an old picture!

And some old shoes!

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.


[HuffingtonPostKorea Interview] Kim Bo-mi, South Korea’s First Openly Lesbian Student Council President
[허핑턴포스트코리아 인터뷰] 한국 최초의 커밍아웃한 성소수자 총학생회장 김보미  


Seoul National University Elects Country’s First-Ever Openly Lesbian Student President

Kim Bomi with HankyorehTV (23 November 2015)

Seoul National University (SNU), the mecca of Korean higher education and a source of admiration/grief for many high school students, has been home to QIS (Queen in SNU) since 1995. Their website has a roughly translated English version, and is mobile-friendly.

Kim Bo-mi, a 22-year old at the Department of Consumer Science, ran unopposed and was elected with 86.8% of votes on a turnout of 53.3%. Kim has previously served as Vice-President of the Student Council (VP). She came out four days before the voting period (16th- 19th November), to much press coverage and public appraisal.

 She and incoming VP Kim Min-seok (Dept. of Political Science and International Relations) campaigned for the following items

  • To ban human rights violations, i.e. sexual assault and harassment
  • To ban Protestant organisations from evangelising inside the campus
  • To promote basic civic knowledge, i.e. CPR
  • To recognise male students’ absences caused by army drills as justifiable

Kim Bo-mi campaigned this August and September for the dismissal of two SNU professor accused of inflicting sexual violence on students. She was also responsible for creating the Student & LGBT Human Rights Council as a body of the SNU Student Council.

She also states that the clause on banning evangelising was proposed by her colleague Min-seok, a devout Protestant himself (and if you have been on a Korean campus, you’d surely agree the constant pestering of the combi – Korean Jehovah’s Witnesses and American Mormon missionaries, will get to you). As the SNU campus suffers from evalgelisers who even enter the dormitories without permission and en masse, they decided it was time to put a stop to them. Kim has agreed to speak with the SNU Christian Students’ Association on this matter.

After a quick look at the Korean media, I saw that articles treating her election have been thronged with negative, irrational comments (several commented on her physique and one even lashed out anger at her posture in the photographs as ‘rude’). One extremist Protestant website has condemned her campaign as one of the “many attempts by the gays to overthrow Christianity and the higher education system”.

Kim has simply stated that she has received many calls from reporters since her coming out in the Chosun article.


[Interview] Kim Bo-mi, President of the Student Council at Seoul National University (Video), 24 Nov 2015, HuffPost Korea
[인터뷰] 김보미 서울대 총학생회장 당선자(동영상)

Chosun Ilbo, November 24th, 2015.

Image by SNU Journal via HuffPost Korea

This post originally appeared on Blogger

Seoul by Erika Henell (May 2015)

S E O U L from Erika Henell on Vimeo.




Here’s a video of Seoul’s major tourist destinations and nightlife by blogger Erika Henell. I’ve been following her blog since a few years, and found out she recently visited Seoul.

She often posts daily outfits and makeup tutorials inspired by Korean and Japanese celebrities (as of recently, Park Bom seems to be one of her faves), as well as cosplay and gyaru looks.

The video provides a sneak peek into:

  • Hongdae: Mecenapolis & street performances
  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • Myeongdong shopping center
  • Korean food
  • Namsan Tower
  • Insadong
  • Seoul Nightlife


This review was posted on 25 November 2015 on Blogger.

Seoulsearching Day 2: In Sashimi We Trust 

During my two-week “research trip” to Seoul, I had one primary personal goal in mind: to eat a ton of fresh hoe (sashimi). So when my friend Y said that her friend N had a Noryangjin Sashimi Fest in mind, I hopped onboard.

Here is the Large Sashimi Takeout box from one of Noryangjin’s many stalls. You choose a seller, the fish, the quantity, and they pack it up for you in a styrofoam box filled to the brim with ice cubes. We paid about 45,000 KRW for the Large box.

Which came with three boxes of chobab (sushi), spicy cold noodles, fresh ssam veggies, plenty of soy sauce and pickled ginger and wasabi. We were four and couldn’t finish all of the sashimi.

A round of Easter chocolates followed…

Apparently Thai Milk Tea is all the craze at the moment. So here it is.

And here is a random picture of one of our usual dinners.

Millennial South Korean Feminist Movements – Press List

“They say it’s a shame to be living in this strange country”

“But we who fight are not ashamed of anything”

(Picture from Womenlink)

Here is a list of material covering millennial South Korean feminist movements. As a researcher, I am trying to compile a comprehensive list of academic literature, verified news articles and noteworthy opinion writing, and art projects on this topic. Please let me know if you feel something else should be added to this list at

1. On Movements (Megalia, Womad, and others)

Haengdonghaneun Megalia (Megalia in Action)
행동하는 메갈리아 
(Anonymous, 6 Sept 2015 – 4 Dec  2015)

Korean Feminism Reins In the Collective Power of the Internet 
(Emily Singh, 8 Jan 2016)

Megalia: South Korean Feminism Marshals the Power of the Internet
(Emily Singh at Korea Exposé, 29 July 2016)

“Megalia” seonghyang ttara womadeu, ladism deungeuro bunhwa (Megalia Splits into Groups Such As Womad And Ladism) – Retrieved from
‘메갈리아’ 성향 따라 워마드·레디즘 등으로 분화
(Kim Seo-yeong at Kyunghyang Daily, 8 July 2016)

In Defense of Feminism
(Se-Woong Koo at Korea Exposé, 7 Aug 2016)

In Defense Of South Korean Feminism: Rise Of Megalia & Other Online Communities
(Korea Observer with Chance Dorland, Se-Woong Koo, and Emily Singh)

2. On Misogynic Incidents and Crime

South Korea gaming: How a T-shirt cost an actress her job
(BBC, 15 Aug 2016)

Gangnam Murder, 17 May 2016

A woman is murdered for no other reason than being a woman. The assailants waits for hours outside the unisex toilet at a Gangnam noraebang (karaoke) until a woman goes into the cabinet alone. Upon her leave, he stabs her unto her death.

Misogyny in South Korea, Part I: Gangnam Murder
(Erik Thurman at Korea Exposé, 22 Nov 2016)

Murder at Gangnam Station: A Year Later
(Seohoi Stephanie Park at Korea Exposé, 18 May 2017)

‘Molka”: Illegal Spycam / Hidden Camera Porn

“There could be one of you”: S. Korea’s Spycam Porn Epidemic
(Jieun Choi at Korea Exposé, 20 October 2017)


Soranet pyeswereul duleossan daseot gaji jujang [Five Hypothesis on Soranet’s Shutdown] 
소라넷 폐쇄를 둘러싼 다섯 가지 주장
(Ize Magazine, 07 Dec 2015)


Pedophilia, Hebephilia and Lolita Culture

Twitter User Flags ‘PedoFILA’ Controversy
(Jieun Choi at Korea Exposé, 10 April 2017)

Sulli and K-Pop’s Lolita Hypocrisy
(Haeryun Kang at Korea Exposé, 20 Jan 2017)

3. On Legislation

Reproductive Rights: Menstruation & Contraception

Government Mulling Easier Access to Menstrual Cups
(Jieun Choi at Korea Exposé, 25 October 2017)

4. On Education

It Was Just Our Body. It Was Just Underwear
(Written by Sodam Cho and translated by Haeryun Kang, 12 October 2017)

5. In Pop Culture

Sulli and K-Pop’s Lolita Hypocrisy
(Haeryun Kang at Korea Exposé, 20 Jan 2017)