SEOUL, Jul. 14 (Korea Bizwire) — On July 13, passers-by were able to see a rainbow colored flag displayed prominently atop the front entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Gwanghwamun. It is the first time the embassy in Seoul has publicly placed the flag on its grounds. The flag was placed there to express solidarity and support for the Korea Queer Culture Festival planned for July 14 and 15.
An embassy insider commented on the hanging of the flag, saying, “As before, the embassy will support the festival and is looking forward to participating with anticipation. The State Department of the United States expresses solidarity for human rights organizations and civic groups that stand for the basic liberties and human dignity of the LGBTAIQ community.”
He strongly emphasized that “the United States is a proponent for equal rights and basic liberties for all peoples.”
The U.S. Embassy in Seoul has participated in the Korea Queer Culture Festival starting two years ago, the year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage.
Then Ambassador to Korea Mark Lippert joined representatives from different national embassies in participating in the festival. This year, chargé d’affaires Marc Knapper is expected to participate.
Gay rights activist and director of the Center for Military Human Rights Korea (CMHRK) Lim Tae Hoon expressed approval of the embassy’s actions, saying, “The United States State Department currently employs a gay human rights expert. As a member of the global community, our country must also deliberate on how we are to stand shoulder to shoulder with first world nations.”
Conservative groups disagree, saying that Korea is not yet ready to take such openly progressive stances. They point to Korea’s long history of traditions and customs as making it difficult for sexual minorities to gain acceptance in the mainstream at large.
One right-wing conservative group explained that, “If government and civic organizations openly express support for the LGBTAIQ community, we feel that the majority of the country will feel unsettled by such actions.”
In addition to Seoul, American, embassies in India and Turkey have also displayed the rainbow flag.
by Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)