Yesterday we encountered a protest against gay marriage and or sexuality. We were heading for one of the small palaces in Seoul after leaving the National Palace Museum of Korea. Right before the entrance of this place, people were sitting in rows while holding signs as they looked up to the stage in front of them. There were a few people on the front of the stage. Music was played and not long thereafter a man started his speech in Korean. The word ‘amen’ kept on being repeated after every sentence spoken. We were not sure what was going on at first. There were a lot of policemen and there were yellow fences surrounding the happening. Hang picked up the Korean word for gay. Then we saw the sign that said: Gay marriage is not a human right and it became clear to us. We were looking at a protest against gays.
Despite the protest, we entered the palace and left the deafening shouting behind us. Within the palace, we had a great time; we ate some ice cream for breakfast, saw an exhibition of Korean contemporary art and we took lots of pictures of, as well as walked around, the ‘old’ cultural buildings of the palace. The amazing thing in Seoul is that a place can look very traditional while you can see high modern buildings rising up in the background representing Seoul of today. It’s one of Ina’s favourite things about Seoul and I agree because the difference is very interesting.
As we exited after about 2 hours, the protest was still going on. The person on the podium was now speaking very loud through his microphone. According to Hang, he was talking badly about their major. He wants to give gay people more rights. All of this, the entire protest… seemed so silly to me. I find the idea of people being against homosexuals so weird that I found it funny at first. Once we left the palace, we could see more of the posters they held. I couldn’t understand the ones written in Hangul, but the few English ones were very clear. As we walked away I suddenly started to realise… if you are gay in Korea, then you are basically… screwed. Does this protest mean that they are against me? Am I supposed to not exist or to be cured in their eyes? Do they hate me more because I’m a foreigner and bringing ‘the disease of homosexuality’ to their country? I know they couldn’t possibly know that I’m a lesbian but… it’s just the idea. So as we walked and now passed the protestors on the other side, Ina took my hand and held it- to make a statement I’m sure. We continued our way by crossing a zebra crossing and ended on the main plaza of City Hall. To our surprise, there were more protestors here. They were standing in a line with a few meters between them, next to the path that we all walked on, holding signs which no doubt said no to gays. On one sign, a man stood with a naked butt. It looked like a typical gay man and a red cross was on top of his picture. Earlier we saw on the back of a truck: “Jesus loves us all,” which I think is qucontradictoryiory, as Hang already pointed out.
According to Ina and Hang, the Christians in Korea are very fanatical. When walking through a shopping street, I already saw two men that were wearing signs on their back that said something about Jezus and had a big red cross on them. They weren’t just walking through, they were calling out to everyone around them. Apparently, some older people tend to lure you in by offering free food and then try to talk to you and to convince them to turn into a Christian too. She already told me on the first day, if you see someone like that, just keep on walking. They can be nice, but they really overdo it.
My dad gave me a tip about the Korean Queer Culture Festival that takes place this month in Seoul. Because of today’s protest, Ina became interested in going too so if we can we will pay a visit. “It will be interesting to see how many supporters show up there in comparison to the protest from today,” she said. As for me, I’m lucky to live in a country where I’m being accepted for who I am and am even more lucky to have friends who do the same and I believe will support me no matter what.