• Heezy Yang

Memorial Quilt in Seoul for the Recently Lost Transgender Activists (+Donation Information)

Memorial Quilt in Seoul for Korean Transgender Activists
Photo by Jogakbo

In just several days from late February through early March, Korea’s LGBTQ+ community have lost three transgender activists. Other than being activists, one was a play writer, another was a teacher, and politician, and the other was a soldier who got forcefully discharged from the Korean army for having gender confirmation surgery. To be completely honest, I (and anyone in Korea’s LGBTQ+ community) lose at least a couple of friends every year. They die by suicide. And it’s ridiculous and infuriating to even say this, but I have gotten numb. Well, I thought I was. However, this time it’s hitting me really hard, because one of them was a friend of mine, and too many people are gone in such a short time.

Kim Kihong – the friend of mine – was a chief organiser of Jeju Pride – a.k.a Jeju Queer Culture Festival. Kihong was also the first openly-transgender politician to run for a general election. Kihong was a teacher who refused to hide who ze (Kihong’s preferred pronoun) was, in front of the students. In all of Kihong’s roles and positions, ze had to fight, and fight, and fight again. Not to mention that Kihong’s everyday life was full of wars with people and the society.

Eunyong wrote LGBTQ+ plays to express themselves and make positive changes in the world. Former army staff sergeant Byun Heesoo had press conferences and filed a lawsuit to fight against the Korean army that claimed loss of penis is mental illness and discharged her, but she was followed by hate and attacks from the whole nation. Last year, a transgender woman was accepted at Sookmyung Women’s University, but decided to drop out after the backlash from all the trans-exclusionary radical feminists and unwanted attention from the whole country.

Everyone mentioned above are dead now, except for just one.

We have been trying to legislate anti-discrimination law for the last 20 years or so, but we kept on failing, due to homophobic and transphobic politicians and Christians with so much political power. Recently so many of the Seoul’s mayoral candidates made so many homophobic statements. Yet, what do we say? We say Korea is so cool with K-pop, world’s fastest internet, and stuff like that. Wake up. We are not cool at all. In K-pop, there can be LGBTQ+ baiting, but not LGBTQ+. With the fast internet, we spread hate. The results are deaths of my friends, and our community members.

Today – the 7th of March, 2021 – a memorial quilt for the three that were lost was displayed in Sinchon, Seoul. It was made with messages and images submitted by people online in the last few days. From coming up with the idea, to organising, and to making the project happen, it took just four days, thanks to the hard work of seven organisations and plenty of activists. Whenever I see these organisations and people work, I can see they are absolutely giving 200%. But sadly, that doesn’t seem to be enough. To make it enough, I am asking you to join us. Mourn with us, share what’s going on in Korea with the world, call out Korean government, politicians, and people, and send us support. I will leave links to some news articles related to the issue, and donation information for Korean LGBTQ+ organisations, below.

Click the titles below to read the articles:

South Korea's first transgender soldier found dead (CNN)

South Korea's first transgender soldier dies, spurring calls for change (NBC)

Transgender student withdraws after getting accepted to Sookmyung Women’s University (The Korea Herald)

Transgender student admitted to women’s university decides not to enroll (Hankyoreh)

Jogakbo is the name of a Korean transgender rights organization. They accept donations via bank account – KB Kookmin Bank 012502-04-449253, Recipient: 김준우(조각보).

Beyond The Rainbow Foundation is the first LGBTIQ foundation in Korea, and they organise and run a lot of various projects in many different fields, throughout the year. Click here to go to their English page, which includes their bank information for donations.

DDing Dong is Korea’s first and only LGBTQ youth crisis support center. They support and protect sexual minority teens who confront crisis circumstances and guide them to live an independent life guaranteed of physical and mental well-being and self-esteem on ones sexual orientation and gender identity. Click here to go to their English page, which includes their bank information, GlobalGiving link, and PayPal donation link.

P.S. Since Jogakbo and Beyond The Rainbow Foundation are taking donations only with their Korean bank account, at the moment, and the international transfer process could be complicate and time-consuming. If you send me your donation to me via PayPal, I will forward the money to them, and share the receipt, the total amount, and the breakdown, in a later post, in April. I will be receiving donations for them until the end of March. Tell me which organisation you want to donate to, or I will decide between Jogakbo and Beyond The Rainbow Foundation. Send your donation to me at paypal.me/heezyyang.