The Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF) is Korea's effort to bring the GLBT community together for support and awareness. In a country where being gay is enough to lose your job, be disowned by your family, and consider yourself removed from any social circles, it was rather surprising to see so many people celebrating their sexuality.
While hardly an expert on Korea's GLBT culture, I did notice a distinct difference in terms of style between that of the 'flower boy' (a straight effeminate man) and the crowdgoers. While it's safe to say that one cannot be judged straight or gay by the clothes in their backs, it seemed that the majority would safely blend into most any crowd around Seoul. Once again, not being 'out' does make it fairly dangerous to be seen as supporting this particular cause.
And dangerous it would be, were your picture taken. In order to take pictures, the organizers of the event wisely allowed anyone to take pictures - provided they follow a few rules. You had to give your name and e-mail address, along with a signed statement saying you would not take any pictures of people with a 'no photo' sticker. If you did, you would have to blur their face out or otherwise make it unrecognizable. Again, it's a big risk for some Koreans to be 'out', but I think this approach seemed like a fair balance between censorship and journalism, whether citizen-led or professionally done. That's the main reason for all the washed-out faces - thanks for understanding.
Finding the event took a bit of time - the only direction I had to go by was that it was at 'Berlin Plaza' downstream from Cheonggye Plaza - never did find that place, for the record.
An art project - not pictured (but well visited) were other booths of information, souvenirs and pride symbols. It seemed interesting that there wasn't just one particular organization represented - perhaps several different organizations (with different focuses) were passing out literature.
Get your photo taken as a buff guy?
An excellent group performance - a nine-man ensemble singing 'Like a Virgin' and 'Mamma Mia!' with some excellent harmony. For the same reason the pictures are blurred, no names or group names were ever given to protect their anonymity.
The way polls are done in Korea - ask a question, use a sticker to indicate your answer. Of course the answers can be rigged - but I suspect it was meant to be more of a 'you are not alone' sort of mindset to the questions and answers. If anyone can read the Korean and translate, I'd be most grateful :)
One of the best performances of the day - an entire Korean musical group performing traditional Korean music. If you've been to a festival in Korea, you've heard it before - the bagpipe-like horn, the big drum, the hourglass drum, the metal pan, along with an amazing amount of dancing.
Making an announcement or speech in Korean - even though the event was geared towards Korean speakers, enough volunteers spoke good English and were more than willing to help one find information in your preferred language.
After the last dance number, the crowd began gravitating towards the street, which had been partially closed off. Led by the party car, the pride flag was just behind and followed by a crowd in the hundreds. Some chose to walk the streets, while a number of observers chose to observe from the sidewalk.
More than a few people seemed stunned by the parade passing them by. They're loud, proud, and while not looking for a fight, certainly didn't seem to be cowed by the country's current attitude towards them.
The event as a whole definitely drew attention to the gay community in Seoul (and Korea as a whole); while not everyone present was gay, the acceptance that the gay community has had towards straight people remained true here as well. In the end, observing a different slice of life in Seoul has never been so colorful.