• Heezy Yang

Grieving the Deaths of Fellow LGBTQ+ Koreans


At the commemoration for korean transgender solider Byun Hee Soo and protest against Korean army in front of the ministry of national defence in seoul.

On the 12th of March, I attended the commemoration for the late transgender staff sergeant Byun Hee Soo/protest against the Korean Army that is responsible for her death. (Click here to read a related article for background information.) The action took place in front of the Ministry of National Defence in Seoul.

Despite the cold weather, a couple of hundreds of people showed up, but everyone followed the safety guidelines as we were still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the assistance of the police; wearing a mask, queuing up, social distancing, etc. The organisers of the event (who I believe consists of transgenders rights organisation members, members of military human rights centre, and many other activists from different fields) gave out candles, trans flag coloured glow sticks, and post-its on which people could write a message.

There were a few boards with the image of Byun Hee Soo, where people could stick their post-its with messages on them. Here are the translation of some of the messages:

"See you again, Byun Hee Soo, in a world where we don't have to be brave to survive. Thank you."

"We live. We love. We will keep on living. Rest in peace, Byun Hee Soo."

"In my lifetime, I will try to make it possible for everyone to live their life the way they want. I promise."

"Let's stick together. Let’s hold each other."

"I wish you could live without having to be strong, in the next life."

"I will remember the strong soldier that you were, and also the ordinary and normal human that you were."

"Rest in peace. (Even though this world is tough for us LGBTQ+ people,) I will try to survive."

"I'm sorry we couldn't protect you."

"I will remember your bravery."

From late February through mid March, four LGBTQ+ (Korean) people around me died. One was a friend of mine, one was an acquaintance of mine, and I shared mutual friends with the other two. This time, a lot of known deaths happened in such a short time, but other than that part, this is just a normal situation for me which I am used to and numb to, and that can not be okay nor right. Every year ever since I got into Korea's LGBTQ+ scene and became active in my early 20s, I have been having at least a couple of (LGBTQ+ Korean) friends or acquaintances die by suicide, and a couple more that I'm somewhat connected to. This is the side of Korean society and reality that's hidden behind the glory of K-pop, K-drama, K-food, and K-whatever. Whatever.

At the commemoration for korean transgender solider Byun Hee Soo and protest against Korean army in front of the ministry of national defence in seoul
Photo by Raphaël Rashid

In my previous blog post 'Memorial Quilt in Seoul for the Recently Lost Transgender Activists', I left donation information for some of the Korean LGBTQ+ rights organisations, and some people sent me some money and asked me to forward it to these organisations because a lot of Korean organisations only take donations through their Korean bank accounts (which I think is a shame! I just think they need someone for the international communication and marketing), so I did that, and here I attached the receipts and stuff below as promised. Transparency!

I will once again leave information for people who would like to make a donation to help support the LGBTQ+ Koreans in need. As far as I know, only DdingDong has an easier way to collect donations from overseas (PayPal) set up at the moment. For the other organisations, you may transfer your donation(s) to their Korean bank accounts, or E-mail them to inquire. I have a PayPal account and I am willing to forward your donation(s) gladly, as I did before, however, I won't be able to respond or forward promptly at times, as, you know, I have a life too and it is sometimes very messy, lol - I mean, I am a university drop-out who's doing queer art - but no I'm not stealing money! Transparency I said!


(Korea's first and only) LGBTQ Youth Crisis Support Centre DdingDong

My friends and other activists that I'm closed to worked very hard for a long time to establish this shelter-like organisation that provides various support and services including counselling and education to LGBTQ+ kids and young adults. This is the first and only organisation of its kind in Korea. They DO have a PayPal account you can donate to!

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Website's English Page: https://www.ddingdong.kr/xe/introduce#eng

PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/ddingdong

E-mail: LGBTQ@ddingdong.kr


Beyond The Rainbow Foundation

The only legally registered LGBTQ+ incorporated association. It provides grants to LGBTQ+ activists, other organisations, and artists, and runs (both mental and physical) health support programs for LGBTQ+ activists. It also plans, runs, and helps a number of LGBTQ+ cultural and art projects. Recently they co-created Korea's first all colour typeface "Gilbeot" which was inspired by Gilbert typeface. It comes in three types - rainbow flag colours, bisexual flag colours, and transgender flag colours.

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Website's Donation Information Page: http://rainbowfoundation.co.kr/page_gJrA69

E-mail: rainbowfoundation.co.kr@gmail.com


Jogakbo

Jogakbo means quilt in Korean. It is the name of a Korean transgender rights organisation which I believe was inspired by The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt of the US. A lot of my transgender friends were/are part of this organisation. It runs a lot of programs and projects to not only help transgender people, fight the important fights, but also archive transgender people's lives and related human rights' movements.

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Website's Donation Information Page: http://transgender.or.kr/xe/page_jOdv33

E-mail: tgjogakbo@naver.com


With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most of the offline LGBTQ+ gatherings and events cannot take place and people are left with no other choice than staying isolated, and it can be extremely challenging for those who are vulnerable and suffering from the discrimination and hate from the conservative society they live in, so support and resources are needed more than ever. Consider making a donation for my friends, for your friends, for our community members, and for human beings that deserve to live decent lives.

At the commemoration for korean transgender solider Byun Hee Soo and protest against Korean army in front of the ministry of national defence in seoul
Photo by Raphaël Rashid