The most famous openly-gay celebrity in Korea, Hon Seok-cheon, actor and restaurateur, is seeking election as administrator of the Yongsan District Office, a large district in the center of Seoul.
If he is elected, it would be quite an accomplishment in a country where homosexuality is still very much a taboo. While same-sex relationships are not illegal, they are not afforded the same legal protections and privileges provided to their heterosexual counterparts.
If he is elected, he plans on building a “counseling center for young homosexuals and help parents who have gay children.” He also wants “to use my diverse connections and experience to build a night market, where the fashion business will grow and young artists share their ideas.”
Hon Seok-cheon caused a lot of controversy when he came out as gay in 2000, causing the network he worked for to fire him from his prime-time variety show. He has also been banned from major roles on television.
Despite this, he has remained non-confrontational. When asked by his friends to participate in a protest to pressure Seoul’s mayor into providing rights to homosexuals, he refused, saying that he could understand the mayor’s stance and that he “needed time.”
He faces quite a challenge in running for the administrator of a district which is largely conservative with only some liberal elements.
To read more:
koreatimesus.com: “Korea’s first openly gay celebrity turns his eyes to politics”
wikipedia: Hong Seok-cheon
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