There will be miracles, if you believe.
You guys, two cool things you need to know about South Korea nowadays: The first one is that they have this show, this presumably awesome show, called Seonam Girls High School Investigators. What is it? It’s Veronica Mars times five, is what it is. (That’s my interpretation, anyway.)
Seriously, just consider this: Five female students (five leading ladies, right there!) are members of a private investigator club. They go around their school, help their classmates to solve problems that have to do with bullying, suicide, abortion, and other issues. Already doesn’t sound like what you’d expect, right? There’s a clear inclination to challenge some social issues.
So if this aforementioned awesomeness wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, I give you the second cool thing about South Korea: Seonam Girls High School Investigators just gave the country its very first on-screen lesbian kiss.
While homosexuality isn’t illegal in South Korea, and their constitutional laws don’t discriminate based on sexual orientation, same sex relations in the army still count as sexual harassment and are punishable with up to one year in prison. Army service is mandatory for males in South Korea, FYI. Same sex couples lack some of the social logistical benefits heterosexual couples get, and homosexuality in general, is still somewhat taboo, with the lack of visibility.
All that said, with high ranks in education, quality of healthcare, innovation and more, though, maybe it’s not that big of a wonder that something is shifting. For example, there used to be censorship on all LGBT content on the internet between the years 2001-2003, but that is long gone. Studies among the general public show that the support of same-sex couples is growing more and more every day.
So, to summarize, there are still ways to go, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and last week, that light was Seonam Girls High School Investigators.
Based on the 2013 novel Seonamyeogo Tamjungdan: Banggwa Hooui Miseuteori by Park Ha-Ik, the show was shot in Seoul, and premiered in December 2014. Three months in and already tackling LGBT issues? Clearly, we found something special here.
Now let’s talk a bit about the episode at hand. When an inappropriate photo is published on the school board (that is an actual board), followed by a release of a whole inappropriate video, which shows student Han Soo Yun, she’s summoned to the principal’s office. She explains the photo was not meant to be inappropriate nor was it meant to become public. The whole thing is out of context, she says, yet refuses the principal’s request to reveal whom the video was meant for. The principal then seeks the help of the young investigators.
The detectives find a link between Han Soon Yun and another student, Eun Bin. Of course they’re assuming that the two are best friends. They also conclude that the two share a secret. Hmm, yes, the secret of secretive smooching.
As our young heroes sleuth, they witness the two girls fight, and then kiss. It was a kiss goodbye, since Eun Bin wants to breakup, fearing things are getting out of hand. Is that the end of our very short lived happy gayness? Nope. Because some mysterious-a-la-A person, took photos when the girls were kissing and we need to wait and see what will happen. Drama is what will happen, probably.
On the one hand, it’s very encouraging to know that this arc isn’t over yet. On the other, there’s an ongoing investigation regarding the episode, which might not help our optimistic future. You can read about it here. In the mean time, why not watch the kiss?
Stay tuned as we watch this thing unfold, hopefully in a way that would make us happy, and start a real conversation in South Korea.
A huge thanks to Nadia. Feel free to send international tips and follow ups to ChenAfterEllen@gmail.com