The World of k-pop is filled with eccentric themes, pumped up choreography and attractive singers. Originally from South Korea, they have become international celebrities in recent years.
However, K-pop has come to dominate radio worldwide, even though it has a glaring flaw that has hindered its universal appeal. The lack of LGBTQ representation. Compared to America, South Korea is conservative.
While there are many out and proud Western artists who write songs explicitly based on their experiences as LGBTQ individuals, there are barely a handful of musicians in K-pop.
The lack of diversity stems from the prevailing customs of much of Eastern Asia, the region whose cultures still encourage homosexuality.
Despite this, a few queer artists are coming out and are using music as a platform to represent the LGBTQ+ community and we are here for it!
Born in Los Angles, Marshall Bang is the first out and proud singer the South Korean music scene has embraced. A top-notch singer and who is also queer. Mrshll has worked with numerous other artists and also appeared on one of South Korea’s most popular television shows.
Harisu made waves in South Korea as the first transgender entertainer. She released her first album in 2001, first techno – flavored releases. After that, she gained recognition as one of the prominent new artists. Her popularity even inspired a short-lived transgender group Lady, which was active from 2005-2007.
3. Choi – Han
Choi-Han is a multi-talented entertainer, a transgender model-actress and a singer. Known as Han-bit, rose to fame after partaking in a 2009 modeling contest sponsored by South Korean broadcaster. Also, became a part of the four-member girl group Mercury in 2016she became part of the four-member girl group Mercury in 2016 and released two singles.
Holland is the first gay k-pop idol. He’s gained a sizable following in just half a year despite his music video receiving a 19+ rating for featuring a same-sex kiss between the singer and another man.
Top K-pop Songs to Listen:
1. Please Don’t:
There are actually quite a few music videos from Korean artists that advocate LGBT representation, one of the most well-known of which is from singer K.Will, titled “Please Don’t.” The video portrays a couple getting ready for their wedding day, as well as a friend/best man who seems to be pining over the groom to be.
The music video of “159cm” is by Tenny, the beginning portrays two young girls fooling around and having fun, while also kissing and embracing each other. This is a huge step in the Korean music industry, as having same-sex couples being so openly affectionate is extremely rare. One of the scenes shown is a close-up of the South Korean flag, which is framed on the wall and reminds viewers of the country’s traditionalism.
3.” One more day”:
This is yet another video full of twists. Beginning with two young women lugging a heavy suitcase down a dark alley, there is already suspicion swirling in the air. The video then cuts back to what seems to be a flashback, where the two are lounging about with each other, stealing glances and sharing smiles. It becomes clear that there is a sort of dreamy, romantic air between the two girls, as they take turns putting lipstick on each other and physically linger longer than friends.
Hollands debut song ”Neverland” portrays two men in love: just a couple, happy and thriving. His later video for his song “I’m Not Afraid” is made in response to the haters, in which he makes it clear that he is no longer afraid of being out in a homophobic society.
The last song by Turbo until the iconic act reunited in 2015 also happened to be the first song in Korea to feature a transgender singer. Harisu, the singer started her career with “History”. She challenged gender stereotypes in the industry and became a trans icon in a country where there are a handful of publicly LGBTQ celebrities.
6.Love & Girls
Represented by the biggest girl group in Korea. The video for their Japanese song “Love & Girls” featured drag queens among a crowd of women of all ages, and was a step in the right direction to include visibly nonbinary people into the mainstream of Korea’s music industry.
7. “My Number”:
The song was about Cheetah being an empowered woman coming into her own after rising to fame. But, the video gloried in the bodies of the drag queens and females acting as backup dancers.