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11 Jan 2008

seoul policeman comes out, fights prejudice

Faced with either denying that he's gay or having to come out, a police conscript chose the latter and spoke out against the discrimination and insults he was subjected to at work.

Vowing to fight social prejudice against sexual minorities, a conscript serving in the riot police came out by declaring his sexual orientation in an Internet post on the riot police community web site on Dec 30.

Private Kim Hyun-jong - a pseudonym used in a Korea Times report - is said to be the second policeman having done so after his squad mate Yoo Jeong Min-shik identified himself as being gay. He was however imprisoned in 2006 for refusing to finish his service term.

In South Korea, men between graduation of high school and the age of 30 are obliged to complete up to 28 months of military service, or in the riot police.

In his article, Kim revealed that he was forced to come out at the police station where he works after his colleagues read some private information he had saved on his computer. He said that although he had first denied it, he later made up his mind to come out and speak up against the discrimination and insults he was subjected to.

"Some almost put a restraining order on me, and I heard many talking behind my back describing me as a 'dirty' gay man," the Times quoted Kim as saying.

"But I am a Korean man living in Korea and I have no reason to flinch. I will struggle against prejudice for all homosexual people and me," he said, rallying others in the gay community to support his call for military camps to outlaw discrimination and harassment of gay servicemen.

The report stated that not only does the South Korean military ban sexual relations between males serving in the forces but also describes homosexuality to be a mental disorder.

Other related cases involve one soldier attempting suicide several times after telling his bosses he was gay after he was asked to submit photographs of himself having sexual intercourse with a man to prove he was gay. He was later forced to take an AIDS test and was publicly humiliated.

In another case, a mother filed a petition to the National HumanRights Commission last October alleging that 20-year-old her son was forced to get into bed with his superiors after he had come out.

According to the United State's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook, some 345,000 males reach military service age annually in South Korea.

Korea (South)

Reader's Comments

1. 2008-01-11 21:17  
...alleging that 20-year-old her son was forced to get into bed with his superiors after he had come out.....

So why aren't his superiors also getting abused?
2. 2008-01-12 07:49  
This is an incredibly brave thing to do...especially in Korea's strong patriarchal society. Kudos.
3. 2008-01-12 15:32  
There are many brave gay people out there. This guy is a good example for us all. Koreans lead the way again!
4. 2008-01-13 12:27  
good point! that means his superiors are gay too?
5. 2008-01-13 16:12  
geez, is it so hard being gay in asia. why don't these people realize gay people are humans also....
6. 2008-01-18 14:03  
And we thought we had a hard time only in Singapore!! Triste.
7. 2008-01-18 15:11  
I hope they will ok, the korean in news.
8. 2008-01-19 15:18  
what is it about asian mentality, excluding Thailand of course, that creates these ignorant attitudes, are they putting something in the water

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