Exposé reveals shocking gay conversion therapy practices in South Korea. | Photo: Dotface / YouTube
A South Korean exposé on gay conversion therapy highlights the shocking practise is thriving in the country’s underground.
The series of videos shows the hidden ‘treatment’ of LGBTI people, including exorcism and heavy beatings. This often comes with an extortionate price tag.
Hanriver Kim is a producer for South Korean news organization Dotface. He identifies as gay and genderqueer and says the practice is more common than people think.
‘People think gay conversion therapy is ridiculous,’ Kim told Gay Star News. ‘But many people think it is done to few gay people.’
He continued: ‘Actually it is not.
‘We had more than 40 victims when we asked people for tell their stories on our Facebook page,’ he said.
In one of the videos, when one of the gay men came out to his parents, she stabbed herself with a kitchen knife.
She then made him promise not to marry a guy until she died.
Another gay man recounted a story of being kidnapped and detained to try to cure him of his homosexuality.
The anonymous gay man said in the video: ‘The pastor would take the microphone and suddenly scream and call my name. He’d talk about “the dirty evil spirit” and… bad spirits, who date men.’
The pastor would also rid him of ‘AIDS germs’.
Undercover camera in gay conversion
In the second video, gay man Sung-Mok Baek calls up a prayer house and tells the receptionist he thinks he likes guys and he wants to change.
She replies: ‘We perform the inner curing so that you can be changed.’
The scene then cuts to a woman performing an exorcism-like ritual on Baek. She says in the video: ‘Satan is inside of you, so hideously. It’s horrid.’
She begins shaking and coughing, trying to get the spirit out.
Another testimony from a gay man revealed one pastor he went to hit him on the back and head.
The pastor also showed the gay man pictures of her grandchildren and warned the gay man he’ll be taking that away from his parents.
One LGBTI cure practitioner quotes a single session for ₩300,000 ($266). Another place asked for ₩700,000 ($621).
Producer Hanriver Kim told Gay Star News: ‘In Korea, the Christian population is more that 20%.’
Conservative Christians perform conversion therapy, but also fiercely oppose non-discrimination legislation for LGBTI people.
He said they produced the documentary series to tell the international community that South Korean LGBTI people need legal protections.
They also wanted to shine a spotlight on the ‘cruel’ practice of LGBTI conversion therapy in South Korea.
The last video states LGBTI people who go through conversion therapy are seven times more likely to try to end their own lives. They’re also five times more likely to get depression.
What’s it like to be LGBTI in South Korea?
South Korea largely ignores LGBTI rights.
Same-sex sexual activity is legal, but that’s only because there is no record of anti-gay laws in the country’s history. It’s the same story for equal age of consent.
Anti-discrimination laws exist according to jurisdictions. But there are no laws for LGBTI couples to start or raise families. Same-sex marriage is also illegal.
Hanriver Kim said: ‘The older generation still thinks that homosexuality can be changed’ and newer generations are generally more accepting of it.
But no one really knows gay conversion therapy exists in South Korea.
He said: ‘In South Korea, not many people know about conversion therapy.’
Kim continued: ‘The international community could help us by spreading the message that we still have conversion therapy and to say that it is ridiculous thing to do.
‘The government needs to think that it is a shame to not protect the LGBTQ+ community,’ he said.