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Seoul Queer Culture Festival
Seoul Queer Culture Festival
Seoul Queer Pride Parade 2019, around the Gwanghwamun Plaza
Korean name
Revised RomanizationSeoul kwieo munhwa chukje
McCune–ReischauerSŏul k'wiŏ munhwa ch'ukche
IPA[sʌ.ul kʰy.ʌ munɦwa tɕʰutːɕ͈e]

Seoul Queer Culture Festival (SQCF, Korean: 서울퀴어문화축제), formerly Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF, Korean: 한국퀴어문화축제), is an annual modern Korean festival, whose theme is LGBT rights. It includes a pride parade and film festival events. The festival lasts for a week or two, and usually takes place in late May to early June. As it was the only queer culture festival in Korea until 2009, when Daegu Queer Culture Festival began, it was also commonly called Korea Queer Festival or Queer Culture Festival (Korean: 퀴어문화축제).[nb 1]

This event is Korea's largest LGBT festival.[2][3]


Participants of the Festival '14
Participants of the Festival '14

The festival first took place in the year 2000.[1] The pride parade that year took place in the Daehangno area and reportedly had 50 attendees; some onlookers "cursed and yelled aggressively".[4]

Since 2001 the festival has included a film festival, Korea Queer Film Festival (KQFF).[5]

The 9th edition in 2009 around the Cheonggye cheon area had a much larger number of participants and a more peaceful atmosphere.[4]

The 10th edition of the festival in 2010 was held in the Jongno area of Seoul.[6] The event was also attended by representatives of a number of Korean NGOs, including Baram Sory, the Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights Group, the Korean Lesbian Foundation, the Lesbian Counseling Center in South Korea, Korean Womenlink, Outeen, Unninetwork and Project Butchway 2010 film studio.[6]

In 2011, the 12th edition of the festival was held in the Hanbit Media Park, Cheonggyecheon area of Seoul.[7][8] Churches and political parties were among that year's festival participants.[8]

The 14th edition of the festival took place in the Hongdae area of Seoul and gathered about 10,000 attendants, a record number.[2][9][10] Like most editions it featured a pride parade and a film festival.[11] Notable attendees included Korean LGBT celebrities Harisu and Kim Jho Kwang-soo.[9]

The Festival in 2014 was disrupted by a number of protesters. Here, one of the protesters is holding a sign in front of the festival's stage.
The Festival in 2014 was disrupted by a number of protesters. Here, one of the protesters is holding a sign in front of the festival's stage.

The 15th edition of the festival, taking place in early June 2014 in the Sinchon area of Seoul, near Yonsei University, declared its goal as protesting against "the oppression of LGBT people in Russia and Korea, and show support and solidarity within the LGBT community".[1][12] The 2014 festival lasts over a week, and events include a pride parade and a film festival.[1][2] The 2014 edition received official support from Google.[2][3] The festival organizers have reported that days before the festival was about to start, the government withdrew permission from them, declaring it "inappropriate" in light of the recent Sinking of the MV Sewol tragedy; but the organizers have stated that they believe this is a pretext used by unfriendly Christian groups trying to sabotage the festival by sending numerous complaints to the government. The organizers were prepared to disobey the authorities and hold the event even without official permission.[10][13][14] The festival drew an estimated 10,000-15,000 attendees.[12] The government officials did not prevent the festival from taking place, but also issued permission to conservative, religious anti-LGBT rights groups to hold rallies at the same time and location. This led to a number of disruptions and delays.[12][15]

The parade was banned in 2015. This has attracted international attention to the event, with most of it being critical of the progress made regarding LGBT rights in South Korea.[16][17] Human Rights Watch has expressed concern in a public online letter to the President of Korea.[18]

The event was held again in 2016,[19] 2017,[20] 2018[21] and 2019.[22]

Political Endorsements

The event attracts support from small Korean political parties, the Democratic Labor Party and New Progressive Party;[6] more conservative members of Korean government take a neutral stance towards the event.[11] The festival receives no significant support from the government.[11] In 2017, National Human Rights Commission of Korea participated in the festival for the first time as a government agency.[23]

Privacy Concerns

Unlike many other similar events worldwide, this Korean festival actively limits the ability of attendees to take pictures or videos. Until 2010 the organizers issued no-photography stickers, ribbons and bands; since then they require registration for all photographers and video recorders and are asking photo-takers to blur participants' faces before publishing pictures online.[1][4][8] In 2012 face masks and sunglasses, obscuring participants' features, were reported as common.[8][24] This is done in order to reduce the chance of accidental outing of participants, who still face significant discrimination in Korean society.[8][25] In fact anti-gay protesters have been known to take pictures of participants and distribute them in order to embarrass the attendees.[4][11]

See also


  1. ^ English language sources, including the event's own English-language webpage (as of 2014) use both names, inconsistently.[1] Korean name, 퀴어문화축제, translates directly as Queer Culture Festival and does not include the adjective "Korean"


  1. ^ a b c d e "Korea Queer Culture Festival". Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  2. ^ a b c d "Google backs Korea's 15th gay festival-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily". 2014-03-25. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  3. ^ a b Andrew Potts (2014-03-25). "Google to partner with South Korean Queer Festival in 15th year". Gay Star News. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  4. ^ a b c d Michael Solis (2008-06-04). "Pride Parade and Prejudice in Korea". OhMyNews. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  5. ^ "About Korea Queer Film Festival". 2014-05-25. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  6. ^ a b c "LGBTQ community celebrates 11th annual Korean Queer Culture Festival : Arts & Entertainment : Home". 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  7. ^ "Gay pride parade in Seoul on Saturday". The Jakarta Post. 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  8. ^ a b c d e Campbell, Kimberly Hyo-Jung (2011-05-31). "Pride in South Korea - Part I: Solidarity and advocacy radiate at 12th Korea Queer Culture Festival". Retrieved 2014-06-01.
  9. ^ a b "Harisu, Kim Jho Kwang-soo among hundreds attending annual gay pride parade-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily". 2013-06-04. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  10. ^ a b "Donga: Controversy over Korea Queer Festival". Retrieved 2014-06-01.
  11. ^ a b c d "Pride on show". upstart. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  12. ^ a b c "Sexual minorities call for more rights". Korea Times. 12 June 2014.
  13. ^ Andrew Potts. "Seoul pride parade to defy official disapproval after ferry tragedy". Gay Star News. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  14. ^ Kwaak, Jeyup S. (2014-05-29). "Seoul Gay Pride Parade to Defy Official Disapproval". Korea Real Time - WSJ.
  15. ^ Lee, Joel (10 June 2014). "Conservative groups disrupt Korea Queer Festival". Korea Times.
  16. ^ "Seoul's pride fiasco". Retrieved 2015-06-16.
  17. ^ Seo, Yoonjung; Fifield, Anna (2015-06-03). "South Korea, at behest of conservative Christians, bans LGBT march". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-06-16.
  18. ^ "Letter to the Government of South Korea on Permitting Seoul Gay Pride Parade | Human Rights Watch". Retrieved 2015-06-16.
  19. ^ 방현덕 (2016-06-09). "퀴어문화축제 예정대로 열린다…"막아달라" 신청 기각". 연합뉴스 (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  20. ^ "'나중은 없다, 지금 우리가 바꾼다' 18회 퀴어문화축제". (in Korean). 2017-07-16. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  21. ^ 성서호 (2018-07-14). "'성소수자 차별은 그만'…폭염 속 6만명 무지갯빛 퍼레이드(종합)". 연합뉴스 (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  22. ^ "6개국 대사 "국제사회는 계속 퀴어문화축제를 지지할 것" 첫 공동입장 발표". (in Korean). 2019-06-02. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  23. ^ "Korea's biggest queer festival kicks off Friday". The Korean Times. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  24. ^ Shaw, Sarah (6 June 2012). "Seoul's 13th Korean Queer Culture Festival and a glimpse into homosexuality in Seoul" (blog). Mapping Words. Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  25. ^ Joey "Pomegranate" Jackson. "An American Tourist in Korea: Seoul Pride Festival". San Diego Gay and Lesbian News. Retrieved 2014-05-29.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)