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Son Seok-gu's remark on the gay charts reflects Korea's evolving attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community

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Actor Son Seok-gu speaks during an appearance on Shin Dong-yup's YouTube channel.  Captured from YouTube

Actor Son Seok-gu speaks during an appearance on Shin Dong-yup's YouTube channel. Captured from YouTube

By KTimes

The perception of the LGBTQ+ community is changing. Stars like Son Seok-gu are proud of the love they receive from their gay fan bases. Her heartfelt gratitude impressed many viewers.

Son recently made headlines for his appearance on comedian Shin Dong-yup's YouTube channel, where he bragged about being at the top of the gay charts, which he saw as a badge of honor and proof that he's keeping up with the trends holds.

In a survey of gay friends, Son humorously bragged about his popularity, saying: “This is one of my proudest achievements. There's a poll where gay friends vote for their favorite male actors. This ranking is too precious to miss. Aren't you quick to pick up trends?

His joke captivated the audience with a humorous take on tanking, noting, “If I move up the gay list because…” [my] Body Double, this is not my own doing.

Evolving narrative

This trend was further highlighted by the candid discussions on the web variety show “Hong Seok-cheon's Jewelry Box”, where actor Teo Yoo's visit to the show was notable as he praised Hong for his openness about his sexuality and about it Reflecting on how popular he was by the gay community often serves as an introduction to broader trends.

Yoo's personal anecdotes about how he drew strength from that support during his rookie years underscore the evolving narrative around LGBTQ+ stories in entertainment.

The representation of LGBTQ+ stories is increasingly visible in dramas, films and especially in genres such as BL (Boys' Love), with titles such as 'Semantic Error' and 'To My Star' finding wide appeal with audiences. The significance of these works lies in their focus on LGBTQ+ narratives, which mark a progressive shift in storytelling.

Stars' comments on variety shows carry weight because they are perceived as the genuine views of the entertainers rather than those of their scripted characters.

Actor Teo Yoo praises the LGBTQ+ community.  Taken from “Hong Seok-cheon’s Jewelry Box”

Actor Teo Yoo praises the LGBTQ+ community. Taken from “Hong Seok-cheon’s Jewelry Box”

Change in consciousness

Pop culture critic Ha Jae-geun attributes the stars' more open, queer-friendly statements to an increased public awareness of their rights. The shift in attitudes toward LGBTQ+ issues, influenced in part by Westernization, has allowed for more open discussion and reflects a significant cultural shift from the past, when homosexuality was a taboo subject.

“In the past, homosexuality was taboo in our country and could not even be mentioned. But with the growing awareness of human rights, the atmosphere has changed. Westernization has also had an impact,” Ha said.

The web variety platform such as Shin Dong-yup's YouTube channel has also contributed to a freer exploration of sensitive topics and provides a space in which open discussions about sexuality can take place beyond the more conservative boundaries of traditional broadcasting.

The international background of Son Seok-gu and Teo Yoo, having lived and studied abroad, suggests that their global perspectives may influence their openness and acceptance. As the presence of stars with international experience increases, it is expected that queer-friendly statements will continue to be heard in the entertainment industry.

While society still has a long way to go toward full acceptance and respect for all, celebrities' honest posts are currently providing support and inspiration to many members of the LGBTQ+ community.

This article from Hankook Ilbo, sister publication of The Korea Times, was translated by generative AI and published by The Korea Times.