Veteran TV presenter welcomes expanding LGBT presence in Jongno

By Yim Hyun-su
  • Published : Nov 6, 2018 - 14:39
  • Updated : Nov 7, 2018 - 10:53

Veteran South Korean TV presenter Song Hae, who has been presenting famous music show “National Singing Contest” since 1980, praised LGBT events during a recent TV appearance.

Song, who is 91 years old, said there is “a lot to learn” from events celebrating sexual minorities when he discussed Jongno-gu, a district in Seoul often visited by older people, as well as members of the LGBT community, when he appeared on KBS’s talk show “Joy of Conversation” on Saturday.

TV presenter Song Hae discusses a growing LGBT presence in Jongno, Seoul, while on TV. (KBS)

“There is an emerging culture here (in Jongno). There are young couples of the opposite sex but there is also a global movement for those who are not,” Song said before the presenter of the show You Hee-yeol confirmed whether he was talking about queer festivals.

“When you go there, (it’s so busy that) there is no place to put your feet,” Song said. “In the past, older people would have been angry, but they are now clapping. There is a lot to learn … about the young people’s world.”

Song also said he feels good lately as South Korean society is experiencing a new type of change.

Seoul Queer Culture Festival, an annual LGBT event that takes place in the South Korean capital, drew 50,000 people in 2017, a drastic increase since 2000 when the first event had only about 50 people attend, according to the event’s organizing body.

Two pedestrians walk in an alley of Jongno, Seoul. (Yonhap)

Jongno, which has been home to actors and musicians over the decades, is one of the most LGBT-friendly spots in Seoul along with Itaewon, as the neighborhood has a sizeable number of LGBT venues, mostly bars.

Though homosexuality is not illegal, LGBT people in South Korea face difficulties. In September, a queer festival in Incheon was severely delayed after hundreds of protesters staged an anti-LGBT protest, resulting in physical attacks and verbal abuse against individuals attending the event.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)