Can You Be LGBTQIA+ And Still Serve In The South Korean Military? Gay TikToker Shares His Army Experience
By Koreaboo on March 17, 2023
A TikToker is sharing his story of serving in the Korean military as a gay man.
Despite recent progressions, such as the South Korean Supreme Court finally acknowledging same-sex couples for the first time, the country is still conservative in many ways.
South Korean Court Recognizes The Legal Status Of Same-Sex Spouses For The First Time
Openly gay K-Pop idol HOLLAND even suffered a homophobic assault last year. Many K-Pop idols keep their sexual orientation a secret, as they can get kicked out of their entertainment companies, blacklisted, etc.
So, what is it like for an average gay man who must fulfill his duty? In South Korea, every male between the ages of 18 to 28 must serve in the mandatory military service for about 1.5 years unless you have an exemption that the nation has cleared.
Korean content creator Rookie (@rookie_park on TikTok) revealed he would turn 30 years old this year. This sparked some curiosity…
D-31 it’s happening #almost30 #30yearsold #agereveal #ageisjustanumber #turning30thisyear #antiaging #foryoupage #viraltiktok
Since he’s 30, netizens wondered if he had already fulfilled his mandatory military service. So, he replied, explaining that he actually did it a decade ago! He even showed a photo of himself in the uniform.
Replying to @theweirdnoona #greenscreen Is it shocking to you that I did my military service in Korea? #storytime #military #koreanmilitary #Korean #Koreanman #koreantiktok #foryoupage
His followers wanted to hear more detailed stories from his time in the military, though, especially from the perspective of someone in the LGBTQIA+ community. In this first part, he said that back then, it was even more taboo to be gay, so it was not acknowledged. He hid his sexuality, and the other men viewed him as a cute younger brother, so they initiated skinship with no concerns.
A lot of guys thought that I’m like small, cute younger brother, so they came to my room. Sometime, they put me on their lap, playing with me, pinching my cheeks, they like touching me. I didn’t mind getting attention from guys.
Replying to @Birbie my military experience in Korea part2 #koreanmilitary #storytime #korean #lgbtq #gayarmy
In the follow-up video, Rookie shared that guest training was the most difficult experience while serving. One must wear a mask and change the filter while in a container box filled with tear gas.
#greenscreen I will never forget the moment I dropped the filter. #korean #koreanmilitary #storytime #koreanman
In another video, he responded to a netizen’s comment, saying, “I thought LGBT people weren’t allowed to serve in Korea.” Rookie researched, proving this theory incorrect as every man must enlist regardless of sexuality. Still, he discovered a story about two men who were charged after they were discovered engaging in sexual activity together in their free time.
Apparently, by Korean military law, having sexual activity between men are illegal in army even though they both are agreed to do it. So messed up.
Replying to @senaimeparis It is so sad that those two young men had to go through this #storytime #mandatorymilitaryservice #koreamilitary #korean #grwmroutine
Rookie’s most recent video regarding being gay in the army was in response to an overly curious netizen wondering if he hooked up with anyone during his enlistment. He did not, but he did share about how he now wonders if his handsome unit trainer had developed feelings for him over time.
We spent a lot of time together, and after a few weeks, he became a little bit touchy with me. He, like, pinch my cheeks, pet me. He even called me in his room and gave me chocolate and candies. And he was giving me this really bad toxic masculinity vibe at first…
Replying to @dewster41 FYI Korean can’t have dual citizenship. So when the trainer turn 19, he had to finish the military duty in Korea, in order to keep his Korean citizenship. #koreanstory #militarylgbt #gay #lgbtqstorytime #koreanboy
So, based on the stories, although South Korea has progressed in some ways, unfortunately, LGBTQIA+ still have to keep their identities secret in situations.
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