Gay Korea: homophobia sparked by Seoul coronavirus cluster driven by Protestant right

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05/15/2020

The Korean LGBTQ+ community knew to prepare for an anti-gay onslaught after it emerged that a person with an asymptomatic COVID-19 infection had been partying in Itaewon, a gay nightlife district in the South Korean capital, Seoul. The community is used to being shamed for just living their lives or blamed for spreading disease. While Seoul’s Jongno district caters particularly for gay men in the form of restaurants and bars, Itaewon offers a convenient concentration of gay clubs and dancehalls. The story of COVID-19 infections in Itaewon originated from King Club, which posted on social media on May 7 that a customer had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and that the venue had been disinfected. News of at least 100 other infections linked to the nightclub then sparked a homophobic backlash against the LGBTQ+ community, feeding into a long history of stigma driven by the country’s Protestant right.

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