Tag Archives: gay

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‘Spa Night’ Explores the Story of a Closeted Korean American Teen

by STEVE HAN

Spa Night is not your typical coming-out film, said writer-director Andrew Ahn of his Kickstarter film.

The film follows the story of David Cho, a closeted 18-year-old Korean American teen, living in the Koreatown district of Los Angeles. After his family’s business collapses, David secretly takes a job at a Korean spa instead of attending SAT classes. There, he shockingly finds a world he never knew existed — an underground culture of gay sex. Sparked by the discovery, he explores his sexuality at the expense of his family life.

With his Kickstarter campaign, Ahn hopes to create a film that humanizes the often polarized story of what it’s like to be gay and Korean American. He also doesn’t plan on including scenes that may seem cliché, which means David will not come out to his family. So there won’t be any scenes of screaming and yelling between the conservative parents and their gay son. Instead, the goal of the film is to depict a character who accepts himself rather than someone who seeks approval.

“David comes out to himself,” Ahn said in the Kickstarter video that explains his film. “He gains a stronger understanding of who he is. I want to make this film because homosexuality has been swept under the rug [in] the Korean American community.”

In 2012, Ahn came out to his parents by famously casting them in his 2012 film Dol, which was a story about a gay first-generation Korean American. Ahn asked his real parents to play the protagonist’s parents in the film before breaking the real news to them.

“At its core, Spa Night is about growing up,” Ahn said in another interview with Sundance.org. “It’s about becoming your own person. We all grow up with different expectations of our futures that come from outside sources: family, community, society. But there’s always a moment when you can finally hear yourself above the noise … This is the moment that Spa Night explores.”

Ahn added that his goal is to create a film that will encourage more Korean Americans to openly engage in conversations about homosexuality in their community.

“People don’t want to talk about it.” Ahn said. “People don’t want to talk about people like me. And I don’t want this part of who I am to be ignored.”

The Kickstarter for Spa Night ends on November 6th, 2014. 

6

Seoul Mayor Wants South Korea To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

by STEVE HAN

Park Won-soon, the mayor of the South Korean capital Seoul, openly admitted that he supports same-sex marriage, sparking fierce debate in the country that still remains largely homophobic.

In an interview with San Francisco Examiner during his visit to the U.S. last week, Park said that he hopes to see South Korea become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Although Park acknowledged that struggle for social acceptance that homosexuals face in South Korea will likely persist, he stressed that it is imperative for the country to protect the constitutional rights of its people.

“Many homosexual couples in South Korea are already together,” said Park. “They are not legally accepted yet, but I believe the Korean Constitution allows [same-sex marriage]. We are guaranteed the rights to the pursuit of happiness. Of course, there may be different interpretations to what that pursuit means.”

No Asian country currently allows same-sex marriage as of now, but Taiwan may be the first country to do so after its legislature recently began considering a bill to legalize it. When asked if he believes Taiwan could be Asia’s first Gay-friendly country, Park reportedly replied, “I hope Korea will be the first.”

As expected, Park’s interview drew heavy controversy back home. Shortly thereafter, he backtracked on his comments through a Seoul city official, clarifying that he was merely voicing a personal opinion rather than declaring that he will seek legalization of same-sex marriage. He also added that he did not use the word “hope” to express his wish for South Korea’s legalization of same-sex marriage.

Nonetheless, Park’s earlier comments shouldn’t come as a surprise to those familiar with the former human rights lawyer’s career in South Korean politics. As Park was running for reelection last year, he issued a permit for a gay parade led by more than 10,000 people in Seoul’s downtown amid strong opposition from Christian protesters, hundreds of whom blocked the street.

Christians comprise nearly one-third of the population in South Korea, a conservative country where Protestant churches are immensely influential. In a poll conducted by Gallup Korea last year, 67 percent of those surveyed said they oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage while only 25 percent said they would support it.

By his own admission, Park remains skeptical over the possibility of South Korea’s legalization of same-sex marriage, but he has been rather resilient in making an organized effort to raise awareness of LGBT issues in South Korea. In 2001, Park established the Beautiful Foundation (Park left the foundation in 2010 to run for mayor), which reportedly has been funding LGBT groups.

But critics still argue that Park is endorsing same-sex marriage as a tool to win political favor. They say that by promoting himself as a progressive thinker who supports same-sex marriage — in addition to free government health care for all Seoul residents, civil rights for undocumented immigrants and free lunches for students at public schools — Park is simply setting himself up against the country’s conservatives to garner public support among the young voters as he’s vying to run for the 2017 presidential election.

Although the majority of South Koreans oppose same-sex marriage, the perception has already changed among the younger generation. In the same Gallup Korea poll that showed 67 percent of the survey participants oppose same-sex marriage, 52 percent of those between ages 19 and 29 said they are in support while only 38 percent of them opposed the idea.

“Protestant churches are very powerful in Korea [so] it isn’t easy for politicians [to endorse same-sex marriage],” Park reportedly told the San Francisco Examiner. “It’s in the hands of activists to expand the universal concept of human rights to include homosexuals. Once they persuade the people, the politicians will follow. It’s in process now.”

Click here to read a related KoreAm feature story about South Korean efforts to support LGBTQ youth.

Image courtesy of Seoul Labor Party

Monday's Link Attack: David Chang, Moon Bloodgood, Lesbian Korean Drama

Happy Birthday, David Chang! A Look Back at His Biggest Culinary Moments and Controversies
yumsugar

Here’s a slideshow of Momofuku chef David Chang.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ to Film Scene With Pittsburgh Steelers
The Hollywood Reporter

Hines Ward and members of the Pittsburgh Steelers will appear in the upcoming ‘Batman’ movie.

Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, is adding some professional athletes to its cast.

Members of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers team will be filming a scene in the Warner Bros. film this weekend playing football players at Heinz Field. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a dozen of his teammates, including Hines Ward, Willie Colon and Maurkice Pouncey, are expected to participate during Saturday’s filming. Thousands of extras will be on hand to play fans.

KBS receives harsh criticisms for airing Korea’s first lesbian drama
allkpop

A new KBS drama called ‘Daughters of Club Bilitis‘ had viewers up in arms over the fact that it contained content relating to same-sex couples.

Moon Bloodgood on ‘Falling Skies’
Crave Online

Here’s a short Q&A with Moon Bloodgood, one of the stars of TNT’s “Falling Skies,” a sci-fi hourlong drama which concluded its first season yesterday.

Crave Online: What brought you to “Falling Skies”?

Moon Bloodgood: Well certainly when you get handed a script and they tell you it’s Bob Rodat and Steven Spielberg, you’re immediately drawn to it. It’s got your attention. I was a little cautious about wanting to do science fiction again. But it was more of a drama story, more of a family story. I liked that and I wanted to work with Spielberg. I liked the idea of playing a doctor and deviating from something I had done already. And I just love the story, the family. It was simple. It wasn’t trying to hard.

Select Korean-Americans to be allowed to exchange letters with their families in N. Korea
Yonhap News

North Korea has agreed to allow 10 Korean-Americans to exchange letters with their families in the communist country whom they have not seen since the Korean War more than a half century ago, a South Korean Red Cross official Saturday.

Margaret Cho ‘Cho Dependent’ Review
The Guardian (U.K.)

From innocence to experience, the cast of last year’s series of the US reality show Dancing with the Stars ran the full gamut. In one corner, sexual abstinence campaigner Bristol Palin. In the other, Margaret Cho, the Korean-American comedian who is to sexual abstinence what Caligula was to good governance. “I want to get f–ked into assisted living,” says Cho, whose Edinburgh show hymns her carnal voracity and her war against the Palinification of the US. Even as her tales of cunnilingus and geriatric sex strain for gaudy effect, it’s a cosy, congratulatory – and enjoyable – affair.

Postwar dreams in a changing Korea
Miami Herald

The Miami Herald reviews Samuel Park’s new novel “This Burns My Heart.”

An assistant English professor at Chicago’s Columbia College and author of the one-act play turned novella turned short film Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Samuel Park displays an affinity for stage and screen in his atmospheric and exuberantly filmic new novel.

Inspired by his mother’s memories, This Burns My Heart cuts a chunky swath of postwar South Korea from 1960 through the ’70s funneled through the life arc of sprightly but initially superficial Soo-Ja Choi. Each scene unfolds visually — in darkened stone interiors, busy hotels and coffee houses — with domineering mothers, maniacal fathers, familiar themes of filial piety and cultural obligation, the inevitably unhappy marriage that was never what it appeared. But since the story is centered on Soo-Ja, she is most sharply in focus and not always sympathetically.

Frenchman Who Teaches Korean Language at SNU
Chosun Ilbo

Marc Duval jokes that his love of the spicy Korean stew kimchi jjigae made him a professor of Korean language at the prestigious Seoul National University.

World-class athletes to gather in Daegu for int’l event
The Korea Herald

Usain Bolt, Yelena Isinbayeva, Asafa Powell and other world-class athletes will gather in Daegu next month to take part in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Championships.

Free Hank Conger!
ESPN.com

After moving Joel Pineiro to the bullpen, there’s only one obvious move left for the Angels to make. They must free Hank Conger.

As bad as the Angels’ offense has been, it’s their catching that has been especially atrocious in 2011.

Greg Pak’s Epic Run to Conclude with INCREDIBLE HULKS #635
The Daily Blam!

Comic book writer Greg Pak is ending his five-year run as writer of The Incredible Hulks.

Marvel Comics has released advance preview pages for The Incredible Hulk​s #635, the final issue of writer Greg Pak​’s run. The issue hits stores August 31, 2011.

Oldest foreign school in Seoul kicks off its centennial
Yonhap News

Here’s a feature story on the oldest international school in South Korea.

Seoul’s oldest foreign school is turning 100 years old next year, and the school is ready to celebrate the occasion by opening itself up to show how its pioneering academics have shaped 100 years of educating Seoul’s foreign population.

The Arms Race Intrudes on Paradise [OPINION]
New York Times

Gloria Steinem writes an op-ed piece for the Times regarding Jeju Island.

Jeju isn’t called the most beautiful place on earth for nothing. Ancient volcanoes have become snow-covered peaks with pure mountain streams running down to volcanic beaches and reefs of soft coral. In between are green hills covered with wildflowers, mandarin orange groves, nutmeg forests, tea plantations and rare orchids growing wild; all existing at peace with farms, resorts and small cities. Unesco, the United Nation’s educational, scientific and cultural organization, has designated Jeju Island a world natural heritage site.

Now, a naval base is about to destroy a crucial stretch of the coast of Jeju, and will do this to dock and service destroyers with sophisticated ballistic missile defense systems and space war applications. China and South Korea have positive relations at the moment. But this naval base is not only an environmental disaster on an island less than two-thirds the size of Rhode Island, it may be a globally dangerous provocation besides.

U.S. ignores Koreans’ protest in naming sea between Korea, Japan
Yonhap News

Despite a growing furor among Koreans, the U.S. government formally confirmed a policy Monday of calling the waters between Korea and Japan the Sea of Japan.

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