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2018-02 04

[Special]What is More than Meeting the Eye

Lookism is defined as a “discriminatory treatment toward physically unattractive people.” This stereotype is spread throughout all sorts of social settings, and affects an individual in the important parts of their lives as in employment, romantic relationships, and so on. The term “lookism” was coined in the 1970s, and despite that, the word came into being quite recently, the phenomenon had been existent since human interaction. Criticism concerning appearance-oriented preference dates back to ancient and medieval records, from a wide array of scholars and religious figures. However, a new word having been coined to dedicate itself to this issue well describes how much the society has grown to become aware of it in recent times. Korea is a country that has not escaped this phenomenon. In fact, it is one of the most deeply influenced countries with lookism, being a mecca of plastic surgery and a massive consumer of cosmetic goods. Teen lookism As a fair indicator of lookism, sales of beauty products for teenagers have grown substantially in recent years. According to data provided by SK Planet, which operates a major platform for online commerce, the overall sale of beauty products increased by 29 percent in 2017. The growth percentage had recorded 251 percent rise in the previous year. One of the most dramatic rises in sales was in lip products such as lipsticks or liptints targeted towards teenagers, which rose by 549 percent. Cosmetics, as a long held subject of consumption for women, has transcended to men, and now even to young children. A result of a survey conducted by the Korea Citation Index reported that 42.4 percent of elementary school students wear makeup, and 43.4 percent of them began applying makeup in the fifth grade. Children's cosmetic usage has become so prevalent that the South Korean government is under discussion to create a new cosmetic's category to monitor and mandate children's products under stricter standards for their safety. An array of self teaching contents can be accessed on the internet (Photo courtesy of Youtube) This increased focus on beauty products and appearance has diverse contributing factors. For one, the advanced telecommunication technology provides a means of advertisement more pervasive and aggressive than ever, and the increased number of media outlets sheds light on a plethora of celebrities or Youtube stars that teenagers look up to and mimic. Furthermore, e-commerce platforms and numerous blogs and videos regarding makeup tips and recommendations lowers the entry barrier of purchasing and learning to apply makeup. This and the perennial desire of teenagers to appear as adults provides the driving force for the surge in cosmetic sales. Lookism for the 20s According to a market report done by a professional market research firm, Trendmonitor, among Korea, China, and Taiwan, Koreans in their 20s to 30s have expressed the lowest satisfaction towards their appearance. This may suggest that Koreans have a higher standard of beauty, or a somewhat higher level of inferiority. Whatever the reason may be, Korean youth spend countless hours and money on their appearance. Aside from cosmetics, plastic surgery is definitely one of the most common means that Koreans turn to for aesthetic improvement. According to the Economist, although Korea came in 7th place when it comes to the absolute number of plastic surgery done, the number of plastic surgeries in ratio to the population was by far the highest. A curious phenomenon in Korea is “employment plastic surgery,” illustrating the growing group of people going under the knife to increase their chances of getting employed. Another growing field of aesthetic consumption is hair loss treatment for men. Although the issue is not much of a problem for women, it has become a critical problem for young men. The treatment cost for hair loss targeting men in their 20s has risen by 34.2 percent during the past 5 years, surpassing that of men in their 30s and even 40s. In addition to hair treatment, Korean men have maintained the highest rate of individual cosmetic spending since 2014, according to the Wall Street Journal. This suggests that Lookism affects both genders with growing intensity. An iconic image that illustrates the prevalence of plastic surgery in Korea (Photo courtesy of Allkpop) Spending for the older generations A new consumer group dubbed the “young forty” has received focus in 2017 with people in their late 30s to 40s spending more on their looks and interests. In addition to this trend, the idea of “You Only Live Once” (YOLO) has pervaded through to the late generation. Although YOLO, a term and idea that began in the United States, originally referred to the youth who take risks and adventures, the term has taken a slight turn in Korea. It has caught the attention of older people who have taken it as a reminder that the time to enjoy life is limited, and that it is “never too late" to do anything. As a result, the national spending on traveling, sports, entertainment, and of course, looks, have increased profoundly by people in their 40s. Furthermore, plastic surgery, especially those targeting the eyes, has become popular for people in their 40s to 50s. As for people in their 30s, a growing number of people invest in their looks as an outlet of their desire to stand out. As the majority of workers in their 30s live a somewhat uniform life, working in offices in similar outfits, their desire to be noticed as original and unique has led to increased spending on clothes, cosmetics, and plastic surgery. Their financial capacity allows them to indulge in their desires without too much financial pressure. Young forty is a term coined and popularized here in Korea. (Photo courtesy of Mediask) The implications of Lookism One of the things that make lookism so hard to criticize and contain is that it is deeply inherent for us to be drawn to people who possess physically desirable traits. However, in the social realm, this instinctive preference that once may have been related to survival has now become harder to defend. With increased awareness of equality and materialism, there is now a definitive breach of morals when lookism prevails in a certain social interaction. Although romantic relationships are still a large part of personal preference, opportunities of employment and education should never be hindered by lookism. The mandate of “blind recruitment,” the receiving of resumes that do not contain photos, is a recent and a rather very late change that Korea has taken to address this issue. On the other hand, another critical and complicated issue of lookism is the problem of who gets to decide the standard of beauty. So far, conglomerates of cosmetic products and media outlets have massively influenced the public ideal and standards of beauty. But then again, if being plump and healthy had been a standard of physical epitome in medieval times, is it so wrong for the standard to now be skinny and tall? Historically, it has been proven that an appearance-oriented preference has existed with or without conglomerates and businesses. Although the public and society subject lookism under a negative light, it is an issue that has been created by, and can only be solved through individual choices. One small, yet critical step that we could take is to become more aware of the choices we make even if we do indulge in lookism. Regardless of whether we believe that lookism is immoral or natural, thinking about how large of a factor physical appearance plays in our individual social interactions will eventually help us define how we want to address this issue. Lee Changhyun

2018-01 09

[Special]The Ultimate Winter Stage

It has begun. The inspirational slogans and advertisements from the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang 2018 can now be seen nearly everywhere in Korea: from television commercials to advertisements all over public transportation. With just 17 days before the initiation of the event, Korea is gradually getting into the mood for the symbolic international celebration, which revolves around the values of respect, excellence, and friendship. The Olympics also has a special meaning for Korea, as the last Olympics, held 30 years ago in 1988, succeeded in creating an economic platform on which Korea could achieve unprecedented domestic and international growth. As such, the PyeongChang Olympics had been a national victory since its announcement, and the entire country holds a sense of hope and expectation for the success of the event. The entire nation shook in joy when PyeongChang was selected to host the 2018 Winter Olympics (Photo Courtesy of Zimbio) PyeongChang 2018: a timeline July 2, 2003 – The PyeongChang Olympics came to being after three attempts. The first attempt was made in July 2nd, 2003 at the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in Prague, Czech Republic. Despite winning the most votes in the first round of voting, PyeongChang lost to Vancouver by a shortage of 3 ballots in the final round. July 5, 2007 – The second unsuccessful trial for the PyeongChang Olympic took place four years later in the next IOC session, held in Guatemala City, the Republic of Guatemala. However, Korea was handed a similar defeat as in the previous session, leading with the highest number of votes from the first round of votes and losing in the final round. 4 votes determined the outcome, designating Sochi, Russia, as the next country to hold the Winter Olympics. June 22, 2010 – Along with Munich, Germany, and Annecy, France, PyeongChang was designated as a shortlist candidate by the IOC, bidding to become a hosting city for the 2018 Winter Olympics. July 6, 2011 – Finally, in the 123rd IOC session held in Durban, South Africa, PyeongChang was elected to become the host city for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Winning an overwhelming majority of 63 votes out of 95, the announcement of its victory brought about a burst of joy throughout the nation. October 19, 2011 – The PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and the Paralympic Winter Games were founded, and preparations for the event officially went underway. February 9-25, 2018 – The Olympic Winter Games of PyeongChang 2018 will begin with the opening ceremonies held in Pyeong chang, located in the Gang won Province of the Republic of Korea. The majority of the snow sports will also be conducted in this city, as well as the closing ceremony. Meanwhile, alpine speed events will be held in Jeong seon, and all ice sports will be held in the city of Gang neung, both located in the same province as Pyeong chang. The symbol “ㅍ” is taken from the first consonant of the word Pyeong chang in Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, and represents a harmonious abstraction of the Earth, Heaven, and Man. “ㅊ” is the first consonant of the second syllable of Pyeong chang, representing snow, ice, and the winter athletes. (Photo Courtesy of PyeongChang 2018) The slogan for the PyeongChang Olympics is “Passion. Connected.” As two symbolic words that represent the value of the event, the slogan is an abstraction of the message that everyone is connected through passion. It aims to emphasize the interconnectedness that each individual shares through their enthusiasm for winter sports, regardless of the discipline, age, and the manner in which they take part in the festivity. Tips for spectators For people interested in observing the games in real life, the experience begins with the purchase of the ticket, available on the official website of the PyeongChang Olympics 2018. Note that individual transportation will not be granted access into the venue sites of the games, and visitors will have to take a free shuttle bus from the four designated Park & Ride sites, only available for ticket holders. Another huge factor for visitors will be accommodations, and luckily there is a spectator guide provided by the official website that provides a detailed explanation of nearby cities where accommodations can be found. Not only is there a chart that indicates how far each location is from each venue in Pyeong chang, Gang neung, and Jeong seon, it also provides a link that specifies accommodation options available in each of these regions and their ratings. Furthermore, there is an additional reference through which visitors can access information regarding tourism in the area such as Temple Stay and Hanok (traditional Korean houses) Stay. A closely detailed spectator guide is provided on the offical website of PyeongChang Olympics 2018. (Photo Courtesy of PyeongChang 2018) Lee Changhyun

2017-12 19

[Special]Concluding the end of 2017

With little over a week left in 2017, everyone is busy preparing to celebrate the passing of a year and the approach of a new one. Now that final exams are coming to an end, students of Hanyang are also joining in the fun, each preparing an end-of-the-year festivity of their own. Whether you are planning to go out drinking with your friends, spend time with your family, or stay home alone, here are some places worth sightseeing to help you get into the holiday spirit, and possibly make valuable memories with your loved ones. Seoul Christmas Festival (2017.12.09 – 2018.01.02) The first recommended location is the Seoul Christmas Festival. As suggested by its quite literal name, it is a festival for everyone, with no cost of admission. Beginning from the Gwanghwamun Metro Station, the festival stretches throughout the Cheonggye Stream, reaching to the streets of Jongno. The Cheonggye Stream itself is a popular visiting spot for many people, perfect for an afternoon walk for desk workers nearby or a date venue for couples. The stream path has become even more alluring, with spectacular lights and Christmas decorations adorned on the walls and even hanging in the air. Furthermore, there are numerous food vendors along the festival, selling snacks such as chicken skewers, tteok bokki and fish cake, roasted chestnuts, and warm beverages. For foreign students, Cheonggye Stream is a must-go location even if it isn’t for the festival; however, with the celebration going on, it is a wonderful opportunity to experience Christmas that captures the essence of Korean culture. For Koreans, Christmas is not as much a family-gathering occasion as it is in the West. Rather, it is usually spent with friends and lovers, enjoyed largely by the youth. Family gatherings revolve around the seasons of New Years, as marked in the lunar calendar, as well as Korean Thanksgiving, Chuseok. The festival is right around the corner of Gwanghwamun Metro Station exit 5, and many visitors can be expected to be seen despite the cold weather. The Cheonggye Stream is already a popular attraction for many people. Many people were visiting the festival despite the extremely cold weather. Deoksugung Outdoor Project: Light∙Sound∙Landscape (2017.09.01 – 2017.12.28) Here is another popular sight-seeing spot for many foreigners, as well as Koreans. The Deoksugung, or Deoksu Palace, has served as the royal palace of the King from the year of 1593. It was temporarily used as a detached palace in 1623, and later returned to its royal status with the rise of King Gojong from 1897 to 1907. One of the most attractive aspects of this site is its convenient location, located in the midst of the buildings around City Hall. Not only is it easy to reach, just in front of exit 2 of the City Hall Metro Station, it is intriguing to see a cultural monument surrounded by modern infrastructure. In the same sense as the Cheonggye Stream, it is a worthwhile place to visit on its own, as a cultural asset that well captures the heritage of our nation. However, the outdoor project, a collaboration with the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Cultural Heritage Office of Deoksugung Palace, provides another good reason to stop by. To celebrate the 120th anniversary of Korea’s Independence, nine modern artists worked together to recreate the establishment of Korea’s independent government. By adapting modern technology related to lights, sound, and even virtual reality, the project offers an extraordinary experience. As the project is planned to end on the 28th of December, those who wish to visit may need to hurry. The Deoksugung Palace has a large number of foreign visitors as well as Koreans. Inside the antique buildings are modern, flashing lights. One of the art installations, Dream in a Dream, is in the form of virtual reality. Shinchon Christmas Street Festival (2017.12.23 – 2017.12.25) Situated near three major universities, Shinchon is a restless area with numerous students, workers, and shoppers bustling throughout the streets. Street performances, such as busking, magic shows, and dance performances can be seen on a daily basis. The streets of Shinchon also cater to a number of festivals, such as the Water Gun Festival in the summers, or the Handmade Beer Festival held this autumn. Due to the location's popularity and great exposure, festivals held there are usually a big success. The Shinchon Christmas Street Festival is no exception. Held every year, the streets are decorated with huge Christmas trees and spectacular light ornaments. Furthermore, there are carolers in the streets, which is not a common tradition enjoyed by Koreans on Christmas. Although the exact decorations and activities for this year have yet to be revealed, those seeking a Christmas experience shared by university students should definitely make a visit. Christmas time and New Year may bring about homesickness for many foreign students. For Korean students, it is a time to look back and make closure with the past year and make plans for the coming year. Wherever your minds are at in this season of celebration, reflection, and anticipation, here are some places to visit to make new memories with the few remaining days of 2017. Lee Chang-hyun Photos by Lee Chang-hyun

2017-11 27

[Special]Keeping a Keen Eye for Uninvited Guests

“Do you support helping 3rd world countries? Sign here.” “Can you tell me how to get to the library?” “Can you help fill out a survey?” At first thought, your instinctive reaction to these questions would not be suspicion unless you have had past experiences with malicious scammers. From the straightforward cult recruiters who step up to you asking if you know “The Path” to strategic swindlers who approach you in a less conspicuous way. These widespread groups with the intent of scamming innocent people are a growing nuisance in our society. These days, the number of these malicious visitors are growing in school campuses, which is a new threat to student and school culture. Distorting people’s faith and feeding on their confusion The largest group of these malicious visitors are the self-claimed missionaries from pseudo religions. This is a completely separate realm from the controversial debates between religions that accuse each other as “not genuine.” What characterizes the pseudo religions or cults discussed here is that these groups not only distort beliefs and worship false gods, they often financially exploit their followers and in many cases leads to the destruction of families. In contrast to traditional missionaries, the major cults existence in Korea is usually distinguished by extreme persistence in dragging people into their so-called “religion”, even to the extent of direct family members. They spend an unusually large proportion of their time studying unapproved interpretations of the bible or committing their loyalty to false worship figures. Usually, these cults become the center of these followers’ lives to a point where they become detached from their family and work. A radical practice of one of the most well-known pseudo religions in Korea was the selection of spouses among young members. In terms of financial exploitation, there are a variety of schemes, from mandating a certain percentage of followers’ incomes as donations to brainwashing them into deliberately donating the majority of their assets. Often, this distorted form of faith leads to divorces and destruction of families. Many schools have started to raise student awareness on the issue of pseudo religions. (Photo courtesy of Imaeil News) So how do these cults recruit followers? Due to the widespread awareness regarding the existence and intent of these groups, cults nowadays veil their purposes behind innocent causes. Over the years, their strategies have become more intelligent, varying case by case depending on the target victims. For pseudo religions, young people are a significant target group that they can greatly benefit by recruiting. Naturally, the number of recruiters have grown in number on college campuses and their strategies have become specialized to be more effective. Here are some of the case experiences shared by Hanyang students. “I was approached by a middle-aged woman who was wearing a suit and holding some files. She told me that she was a career consultant, and that she came to the campus as a part of her research. She asked me about my career development process and some background information including name, school, and contact number saying she would help me with my career. I took this offer and visited her a number of times. The first two sessions were genuine counseling, after which she gradually began to introduce religious themes and inviting me to join group gatherings and show up to church.” (anonymous at the request of the interviewee) These types of approaches are not confined to Western religions; they are sometimes followers of Eastern religion, such as Buddhism and Taoism. In another answer from a student requesting to remain anonymous, two people claiming to be ordinary students came up and asked personal questions. One odd characteristic was that they asked how the student's name was written in Chinese and the date of birth by the Lunar calendar. They, then, requested a small amount of money, which they would use in the process of paying respects to his ancestors. This ritual was claimed to please his ancestors and bring better fortune to the family. Recruitment tactics come in different forms of strategies Other malicious intentions Aside from religious visitors, there are a number of visitors to the campus with different agendas. One common group are those who coerce charity. Although some people are genuinely working to contribute to donations for those in need, some people approach students without clarifying their intent. Rather than to clearly ask for charity or a donation, these people ask students to answer a simple question of whether they support donation. Then they vaguely ask how much the students are willing to donate. After getting a signature, they change their attitude, suddenly pressuring the donation of that amount. While it is questionable whether those donations are validly used for charity, some of their tactics are said to be quite aggressive. Aside from these "charity workers", there are also cases of encounters where personal questions are asked to students without clearly stating the motive or intention. In one form or another, personal information such as name, age, major are asked about, as well as variations, such as student's greatest worries, life mottos, and so on. In most of these cases, the students are just left confused, as they are not followed up with proper explanations, or even the request of money or membership to a cult. A Korean news article expresses concerns over foreign charity workers without clear authorization. Their membership is said to be suspected of having a relationship with an infamous Korean cult. (Photo courtesy of News Power) Keeping our campus clean On the issue of pseudo religion missonaries, it was answered on behalf of Hanyang's Buddhist club, The Buddihst Student Association explained that, “Regardless of the religion, we dislike people who nudge others to become believers even if it’s from a family member. Pseudo religion members practice a number of strategies to recruit new members, from spreading flyers to telling people that they have features of a good fortune." Furthermore, the opinion of the Christian club said that a lot of cults have appeared around campus, approaching students under the pretense of personality tests, leadership seminars, and such. Once a member, these cults are very difficult to escape from and, most of the time, destroy families. They advise students to stay wary of these malicious visitors and to reject their approaches. Aside from religous frauds, other forms of malicious visitors have contributed to confusion and have, from time to time, caused trouble inside the Hanyang campuses. Furthermore, they create an atmosphere of mistrust on campus. For instance, students who are genuinely carrying out a survey for their project could be mistaken as a cult recruiter. These effects, ultimately, create distractions and distance between students of Hanyang, derailing the learning atmosphere. On this issue, awareness is of utmost importance. Be keen to spot out scammers and do not indulge in their conversations. Some actions of the school could also help, in the form of raising awarness and increasing security and surveillance. Lee Chang-hyun Photos by Lee Jin Myung

2017-11 13

[Special]Stepping into the Life of Claude Monet

With the daunting winter cold approaching a step closer, the weather for leisurely activities are now limited to days. If you are wondering what do with the few remaining days of reasonable weather, a good recommendation is a visit to the “Monet/ Drawing Light” exhibition at BonDavinci Museum. For those who have always wanted a “piece” of culture, but have not had the time or opportunity to pursue that interest, this is the perfect weather and timing to visit an art exhibit and learn about one of the most renowned artist of the Impressionist Era, Claude Monet. Introduction to Monet A photo of Oscar-Claude Monet (Photo courtesy of Imgur) Oscar-Claude Monet was born in France, into a family of second-generation Parisians. Despite his father’s desire for him to enter the family business, Monet was able to take his first step towards art with the support of his mother, who was a singer. However, there were severe obstacles in his pursuit, such as the death of his mother at the age of sixteen, and being drafted to the French-Algerian War. Although Monet’s father could have purchased his exemption from the draft, Monet’s refusal to quit painting led to his father’s inaction. Fortunately, he was able to leave the army in the middle of his service to enroll in an art school, where he met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille and Alfred Sisley. The new approaches to art that they came up with, painting the effects of light on the landscape with broken color and quick brushstrokes, are now called Impressionism. One of Monet’s most famous work, Impression, Sunrise (Photo courtesy of WikiArt) The term “Impressionism” is originated from the title of Monet’s painting, Impression, Sunrise. The philosophy of this movement is defined as the expression of one’s perception of nature, characterized by a keen observation of light and unique brushstrokes. In practice, Monet had painted same scenes multiple times at an attempt to capture the changing of light and the passing of seasons. Monet/ Drawing Light: Part 2 Monet’s impressionism exhibit is an extension of the first exhibition. Supported by a wide range of popularity, the original “Monet/ Drawing Light” exhibition was re-opened in July with additional features. The key behind its’ popularity was the use of light; all of the artworks displayed in the exhibition are in the form of projected light, and who else would be more fitting for this manner of display than Monet? The painting style of the Impressionist maestro is directly related to capturing the change in light. By introducing the element of light and motion to the original paintings, this exhibition serves as an exemplary case of outstanding visualization. This unorthodox means of display is merely a stepping stone for the exhibit’s underlying goal to capture the essence of Monet’s art and life. Combined with delicate designs of interior structure, the beams allow the audience to literally step into a scene of Monet’s life and be consumed into the moment. Such reconstruction of two-dimensional art into three-dimensional spaces creates a mesmerizing mood throughout the duration of the exhibit A display of a scene in Monet’s life The display is divided into several chapters, each representing a crucial part of Monet’s life. Beginning with the invitation chapter that introduces the overall life story of Claude Monet, there is the “Giverny Pond: Flower Garden”, “Musee De Lorangerie: Water Lily”, “Painter: Garden of Fantasy”, and a chapter dedicated to Camille, the muse and love of his life. Each chapter is designed in a way that best captures the meaning that each place, scenery, and person has on Monet’s life. Aside from these chapters, there are collages of Monet’s art pieces in various captivating forms. Giverny Pond: Flower Garden Furthermore, there are a good number of photo booths between each displays. While some people find them as distractions from their exhibiting experience, the general opinions on the audience review page were praising it as an entertaining feature. However, the photo booths were generally well coordinated with the displays, and were more of an interactive platform as a part of the audience experience. At the end of the exhibit, there is a goods shop with art-related merchandises such as jigsaw puzzles, notebooks, post cards, and T-shirts. The goods were not limited to Monet, and also portrayed artworks of Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Gustav Klimpt, and much more. A photo booth under the theme "Monet's dining room" Room for improvement Despite the admirable achievements of the exhibition designers and producers, a significant shortage of the exhibition comes from its’ management. To be blunt, there are a lot of children at the exhibit, and not enough supervision over them. It is an issue frequently raised by the visitors in the review section, and witnessed first-hand during the preparation of this article. Many parents opt to bring their children to enjoy the exhibition, as the interactive installations provide an exciting yet educational experience. The vicinity to the Children’s Grand Park also plays a big role in the large number of child visitors. It is agreeable that the exhibition is a great way to introduce toddlers to classical art in an entertaining fashion. However, this is done at the cost of other visitors’ satisfaction. Children’s screams were constantly heard throughout the exhibit, as well as banging of toys, running, and a child was even picking flowers from display installations. It was no wonder that a large number of reviewer comments were recommendations of the day and time for avoiding children. In addition to parent negligence, there were no staffs located in the exhibition to maintain order. As such, some steps are deemed necessary for the management to take in order to deal with this problem. Aside from the positioning of staff members, the directors could schedule particular days or hours when toddlers are not allowed to enter. Lee Chang-hyun Photos by Lee Chang-hyun

2017-10 13

[Special]A Growing Need to Address the LGBT Society

Last month, a public letter was published on the Korean edition of Christian Today towards the celebrity Hong Seok-cheon, in the form of an editorial. Written by Joseph Joo, a pastor and an anti-homosexual activist, the letter expressed his concerns for Hong’s potential candidacy in the election for the district office of Yong-san gu. As the first Korean celebrity to come out as a homosexual, Hong is the most prominent gay celebrity in Korea, having overcome the sexually conservative tone of Korean society. Convinced that Hong’s acclaimed desire to tackle the problems of Yongsan-gu is a cover for his pursuit to secure gay rights, Joo wrote his letter to dissuade Hong from running for office. Yongsan-gu itself holds a symbolic meaning because of its ethnic and sexual diversity, largely due to the Itaewon area. In his letter, Joo insisted in a gentle yet adamant tone that Hong drop his pursuit for office and seek repentance. This incident drew large public attention, shedding light once again on the issue of sexual minorities in South Korea. The first Korean celebrity to come out as a homosexual (Photo courtesy of Money S News) Sexual minorities and political refugees On the issues of LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and, transsexuals), Korea lacks significant political dialogue. Rather than having positive or negative addressment on the various policies and issues concerning sexual minorities, there is not much spotlight shone at all. This neglect is gradually becoming a problem that even the international community is raising criticism. A critical area for the issue of sexual minorities in Korea is the military. According to article 92, clause 6 of the Korean military law, the court prohibits any military personnel from being involved in sodomy or related indecencies. This law is otherwise known as the “Anti-homosexual law”, which condemns homosexuals in the military. Considering that Korean men are mandatorily drafted to the army, this law, which has been in question of constitutional validity for nearly 20 years, provides a significant dilemma for homosexual men. There are two main options: either keeping homosexuality a secret for the duration of their military service, or to resist the draft for conscientious objection, which would lead to 2 years of incarceration. This dilemma eventually led some Korean men to seek for a political refuge. Countries such as France, Canada, and Australia have accepted Korean men as political refugees. The acceptance of these refugees itself is a significant international recognition of social incapability to address the issues of sexual diversity. In an article regarding this issue, the International Financial Times criticized that Korea is an “essentially conservative country that lags behind on social issues despite its rapid technological and economic development.” The Financial Times published an article this April on the military “scan” of gay personnel. (Photo courtesy of the Financial Times) Growing needs for addressment There are also severe problems in the education sector. Student education on sexual diversity is critical to prepare for the inevitable addressment of policies regarding sexual minorities in the future. As a result of exposure to western culture as well as books and films about sexual diversity, the number of Korean people coming out as LGBT is growing. The gay parade had taken root in Korea in recent years, and the rise of various LGBT interest groups indicates that this inevitable future will approach soon. However, the Ministry of Education fails to address the issue of sexual minorities and excludes the issue in public sexual education. In fact, the ministry canceled a specific training education for sexual education teachers last year on the basis that it had not been correspondent to the National level of school Sexual Education Standards. The underlying reason was that it included a section on sexual identity and the understanding of LGBTs. The National level of school Sexual Education Standards, introduced in 2015 by the Ministry of Education, has been under public criticism for its failure to provide proper education. Much of the guidance provided is impractical and is based on outdated notions of gender. In a more specific case, there is the Teenage 1388 Call Center. Operated by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in cooperation with the Korea Youth Counseling & Welfare Institute, the Teenage 1388 Call Center was established to provide anonymous counseling to various problems for teenagers. The problem was that the counselors of the center have advised students that homosexuality was something to be “treated”, and that it was “wise to avoid having convictions of homosexuality until becoming an adult.” It was revealed that the education courses for the counselors did not have appropriate content on sexual minorities. Even in universities, hate groups against the LGBT community are growing in numbers. In 2016, a professor of a Korean university was publically criticized for damaging a banner installed by the university’s queer community. Furthermore, many universities considered “prestigious” have hate groups and SNS accounts dedicated to shaming sexual minorities. Despite problems across a variety of sectors, the issue of sexual minorities receives very little spotlight with insufficient political debates and representation. Even in presidential pledges and debates, these issues traditionally received little attention. Only with continued efforts of the LGBT community has the issue been introduced in this year’s presidential election debates, and even then, there was only one candidate who pledged a policy in favor of them. Although most candidates emphasized their commitment to gender equality, most of them openly expressed that they were against homosexuality. Although the means and results of political debates remain unclear, what is apparent is that the need to address this issue is growing, and will continue to grow. Lee Chang-hyun