I’M HERE WITH YOU
BY GOWUN LEE
The majority of LGBTQ people in South Korea hide their true identities from their colleagues, friends and their families. Despite a recent surge in LGBTQ activism, Korea remains a very conservative country and those who come out face being disowned by family or dismissed from their employers. Many Koreans still express bitter hostility toward LGBTQ people, while others simply deny their existence. The Korean military actively hunts down gay soldiers, going so far as to mount sting operations using gay dating apps. And when someone does come out, parents and family members often choose to ignore the truth.
This project literally and metaphorically represents sexual minorities living in Korea who are forced to hide their sexual identity. The LGBTQ individuals photographed—all facing away from the camera—remind us of how Korean society continues to neglect and refuse to accept them. By creating these images, my intent is to both implicate the viewer in the nation’s larger refusal to acknowledge the identity of LGBTQ individuals and, more importantly, to spur us all to take action and change this attitude once and for all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gowun Lee (b. 1984) is a visual artist who utilizes photography. She explores themes of a social issue such as LGBTQ in South Korea and human relationship in conceptual ways. She moved to South Korea from New York for her ongoing project.
She received BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts. She has been shortlisted for Tokyo International Photo Competition, ZEISS Photography Award 2018, 2018 Aperture Summer Open: The Way We Live Now.
Her images have been featured in Open Society Foundations, The Guardian, CNN Style, Bubblegumclub, Aperture Foundation, Korean daily, Monthly photo, ZEISS LensPire, and World Photography Organization.
Her work has been included in exhibitions at the United Photo Industries Gallery in New York, Onfoto Gallery in Taiwan, SVA Chelsea Gallery in New York, Tak Gallery in Seoul, MayFlay in Seoul, Wonder Fotoday in Taiwan, Head On Photo Festival in Australia , Somerset house in London and Upcoming exhibition T3 Photo Festival in Tokyo.