South Korea’s LGBTQ+ community has no law to protect them and is constantly under attack from the conservative population, still they’re thriving and getting more visibility in the last few years. Seoul Queer Culture Festival growth is a good example. From 50 atendees in its first edition, the festival now reaces a new attendance records every year, surpassing more than 50 thounsands of people to the streets, marching against prejudice.

Aside from the of the marchs and festivals supporting diversity, the LGBTQ+ community has a very low expression on traditional media (something K4US has discussed through a series of texts before) but there’s one platform which seems open to these people, where they can share their experience with a global audience: YouTube.

That’s the case to emoxsemo couple, two young south korean women who, although aren’t out, hold more than 30 thousands subscribers on their channel. Considering the importance of understanding social minority issues through the point of view of people who live these issues, we invited the girls to open our new series of articles: LGBTQ+ Korea,  which aims to bring LGBTQ+ perspectives to help people from all over the world to overcome their prejudices, end myths and to better understand the reality of the LGBTQ + South Korean community.

*They asked us to publish the answers both in Korean and English


First of all, can you two introduce yourselves to the audience (name, age, gender indentity, sexual orientation, working area…)?

Emo : Hello everyone, we are a same-sex couple living in South Korea nicknamed as “Emo” and “Semo” Couple. I am in an early 30s, and my girlfriend is in late 20s. We have age difference of 4 years. (We would like to keep personal information such as age or actual name to ourselves for privacy reasons)
이모: 안녕하세요 저희는 대한민국에 살고 있는 이모 세모 커플입니다. 저는 30대 초반, 제 여자친구는 20대 후반의 4살 차이 커플입니다. (정확한 나이와 본명은 개인적인 정보라 밝히기 곤란합니다.)


Why did you decided to create a YouTube Channel? Did you ever expected to reach over 30K subscribers?

Emo: We created this channel to leave our memories together as a video footage and hoping to reminisce them later. But many who watched our video left kind comments that our video helped them to rid their prejudiced beliefs on a same sex couple. This got us to think that we had to be more responsible as same sex couple with video contents so that it could possibly help many out there understand and see us as just a typical couple loving each other. We also hope for a day where many lesbian couples feel safe to come out to the world, and freely express their love. It always surprises us seeing the number of subscribers increasing in a fast rate.
이모: 유튜브를 시작하게 된 계기는 시작 단계 당시엔 여자친구와의 추억을 저장하기 위한 용도 정도로만 이용하려 했습니다. 그렇지만 채널을 시작하면서 부터 ‘레즈비언 커플’에 대한 선입견과 편견이 사라졌다란 사람들의 반응을 보며 좀 더 사명감과 책임감을 갖고 활동해야 되겠다 결심했습니다. 현재 저희는 더 많은 레즈비언 커플들이 세상밖으로 자유롭게 나와 활동했으면 하는 바람으로 유튜브 채널을 운영 중입니다. 계획했던 것보다 더 빠른 속도로 구독자 수가 늘어나고 있는 점은 항상 놀라울 따름입니다.


You both seem pretty comfortable in front of the camera. Are you girls out to your families and coworkers? Were you ever worried people would finding out about your relationship?

Semo: We did not come out to our family members or co-workers. It is such a pain that we need to force ourselves to live under an unspoken discrimination or negativity that society has set towards LGBTQ+ community. We do fear of someone close to us figuring out our sexualities. But this won’t stop our passion of having conversations with our subscribers in front of the camera. Maybe we are destined to do this!
세모 : 가족과 직장 동료들에겐 커밍아웃하지 않았습니다. 사회가 정해놓은 디폴트 값에 반하는 삶을 산다는 것은 국적과 인종을 떠나 굉장히 힘들다고 생각합니다. 저희는 항상 주변 사람이 저희의 성향을 알게 될까 두렵고 알아볼까 무섭습니다. 그치만 카메라 화면 속에서 나누는 소통을 마냥 즐겁습니다. 타고난 성격인 것 같습니다.


Korea has been known for its conservatism for a while now. What was your experience growing up and realizing your sexual orientation in such a society?

Emo : It just happened very naturally at a young age for both of us. South Korea is intolerant of its gay community. Also, our district is known for having negative perceptions towards LGBT community. But this didn’t affect me being just myself. Being “lesbian” is just a natural personal disposition. So, I’ve never been in an agony of liking the same sex.
이모 : 저희 둘 다 어렸을 때부터 아주 자연스럽게 깨달았습니다.
한국은 보수적인 국가고 저희가 자고 나란 지역은 우리나라에서도 가장 보수적인 곳입니다. 그렇지만 그 점이 제 성향을 깨닫는데엔 영향을 끼치지 않았습니다. ‘레즈비언’인 것은 타고난 성향이니깐요. 같은 성별을 좋아한다는 것에 대해 괴로워 하거나 깊게 고민해본 적은 없습니다.


Do you believe the younger generations are more open to understand social minorities such as LGBTQ+ people and social issues such as feminism?

Semo : Yes, I think so. Characteristics of Society is changing continuously, and so does the people’s perception towards LGBT community. But because past generation received different education unlike the current generation, we understand older ones offering far less tolerant views toward LGBT community. These days, it is good to know that Korean society has been exhibiting increased tolerance toward this community. I believe current generation is a steppingstone towards the better future.
세모: 네 그렇다고 생각합니다. 과거부터 현재까지 사회는 끊임없이 변하고 있고 그 변화 중 하나가 LGBTQ에 대한 사람들의 인식이라고 생각합니다. 기성세대와 저희가 받았던 교육도 그렇고 접하는 매체의 내용도 다르니 생각의 차이가 날 수밖에 없다 여겨집니다. 확실히 한국은 예전보다 퀴어 문화에 대해 좀 더 부드러운 시각을 갖고 있습니다. 저희는 지금 현 시기를 과도기라 여기며 세월이 흐르면 좀 더 달라지리라 확신합니다.



Did you have any LGBTQ+ women you looked after as an inspiration while growing up?

Emo: We get inspirations from each other. She helps me become a better person, and vice versa.
이모: 서로가 서로에게 영감을 줍니다. 끊임없이 서로를 발전 시키고 스스로도 몰랐던 나 자신을 발견하게 만들어줍니다.


Abroad we know very little about the Korean LGBTQ+ community but there’s one thing that is usually said about relationships between women: women with a “tomboyish style” don’t date amongst each other. Same goes to “feminine” women. Is that something that actually happens often?

Semo : That is not true at all. Most of Korean female couples who came out are often depicted as a women with “tomboyish style” dating “feminine” style. But in fact, there isn’t a fixed- hair style for a Korean same sex couples. If a long hair/feminine style woman wants to date someone of a similar style, they will, and if “tomboyish style” woman wants to date someone of a similar style, they will. Same goes with fashion style, or characteristics.
세모 : 그것은 사실이 아닙니다. 한국에서 본인의 성향을 밝히고 자유롭게 연애를 하는 커플이 짧은머리+긴 머리 여성의 조합이라 그렇지 실상은 머리길이에 구애받지 않습니다. 머리길이는 개인의 취향입니다. 긴 머리를 좋아하는 긴머리의 여자라면 긴머리끼리 연애를 할 것이고, 짧은 머리를 좋아하는 짧은 머리의 여자라면 짧은 머리끼리 사귈 것입니다. 그 외의 경우도 마찬가지입니다. 또, 이것은 비단 머리길이에 국한 되지 않고 패션 스타일과 말투, 성격에서도 해당됩니다.


How do you feel about having so many people, with different backgrounds and culture, looking for your advices? 

Emo : Even though many of our subscribers are from different country with various cultural backgrounds, I believe it is “love” that can bring us all together as one. I believe many subscribes relate to that stories of both happy and sad moments of being in a same-sex love.
이모 : 저희 채널을 보는 많은 사람들은 저희와 다른 문화와 배경을 가지고 있지만 ‘사랑’이란 키워드는 만국공통이라 생각합니다. 사랑하면서 행복했던 기억, 아팠던 기억들을 저희에게 공유하며 공감대를 형성하고 싶으신 게 아닌가 싶습니다.

Is there anything you avoid doing in public because of weird looks you might get?

Semo : As answered in a previous question, South Korea’s Society is still very conservative. In order to fit into that society, we usually do not do more than hugging or holding hands. We always try to be cautious with our conduct.
세모 : 앞서 말했다시피 한국사회는 굉장히 보수적입니다. 저희가 레즈비언 커플이기에 공공장소에서의 스킨십을 자제한다기 보단 사회 분위기에 맞춰 손 잡고 포옹하는 것 이상으로는 안 하는 편입니다. 눈치를 본다는 표현이 더 적절하겠습니다.


How do you deal with prejudice?

As I answered this in the second question, most straight people in South Korea have a stereotype of lesbian couple being depicted as Tomboy woman with Feminine style woman. I do not stand against those type of stereotype because people have freedom of opinion. But we hope that those thought would change through our YouTube channel.
세모 : 이 질문의 대답은 2번 질문의 답과 일맥상통합니다. 한국에 사는 대다수의 이성애자들은 레즈비언 커플의 대한 인식이 [톰보이 스타일 + 페미닌 스타일]의 조합이라 생각합니다. 저희는 그들의 그러한 선입견에 대해 맞설 생각은 없습니다. 다만, 바꾸려 노력할 뿐이죠. 그러려고 시작한 것이 ‘이모양의 이모저모’ 채널입니다.


A few days ago Seoul had its 20th Queer Culture Festival. Were you there? Have you ever gone to this event? Why do you think it’s important to celebrate diversity through the Parade?

Emo: Because of our personal schedule, we couldn’t attend to the Queer Culture festival. Though, Happy Seoul’s 20th Queer Culture Festival! We believe that LGBTQ+ festival is a positive stance and strong symbolic action against discrimination against the gay community, and we hope that more events are created to make our community be visible.
이모: 저희는 그 때 각자의 사정으로 참석하지 못하였습니다. 늦었지만 퀴어 축제 20주년을 진심으로 축하합니다! 다양성을 기념하는 축제에 대한 저희의 생각은 퀴어퍼레이드가 탄생하게 된 이유도 소수자에 대한 차별과 박해 때문이기에 ‘퀴어 퍼레이드’ 말고도 더 다양하면서도 많은 형태의 행사가 생겨나 소수의 존재에 대한 시각화가 이뤄졌으면 합니다.



We would like to say “We are not wrong, but just different from others”. We sincerely hope for a society full of love and respect. Thank you all for supporting us and loving us. We love you all too!

우리는 흔히들 우리의 존재에 대해 이렇게 일컫습니다. ‘우린 남들과 다를 뿐 틀린 것이 아니다.’라고 말이죠. 빠른 시일 내에 그런 일컫음 조차 없이 서로 사랑하고 배려하고 존중하는 사회가 되었으면 합니다. 저희에게 항상 과분한 애정과 응원을 보내주셔서 감사합니다. 사랑합니다.

– Emo and Semo

We would like to thank Emo and Semo’s avaiability and courage to share their perspectives and experiences so honestly with us.

Interview by Bea | K4US Editors Team | Please do not remove  without credits.