Well, I’ve been meaning to post this much more earlier, but life is… just not what it should be right now. The “most important” reason about why I didn’t post sooner is because I was waiting to see the outcome about Kim Jho Kwang Soo’s marriage registration.
From what I understood, back in September, the office said they’d allow them to APPLY for registration. The real registration would be decided by a court. However, the office backtracked afterwards and said they wouldn’t even let them apply. So Kim Jho Kwang Soo and Kim Seung Hwan still sent their documents on the 10th and held a press conference the same day. So as far as I know, we do not know if the office really did reject their application, but they probably did. Kim Jho Kwang Soo and Kim Seung Hwan are ready for the next step which would be taking their case to court.
I’m not quite satisfied with this translation as in I didn’t reach the level of accuracy I usually have before posting. I’m really not familiar with the legal terms and stuff like this. Still, it’s not bad enough (at least I hope so) not to post it and make you waste your time reading this interview from December 10th.
We still remember the wedding film director Kim Jho Kwang Soo and Rainbow Factory’s CEO Kim Seung Hwan held on September 7th. It was almost like a festival with 2000 citizens, although there was some noise coming from religious people who violently expressed their opposition to this wedding.
Three months after the wedding, on the 10th, film director Kim Jho Kwang Soo and CEO Kim Seung Hwan had finally decided to go and get registered to legalize their couple. For other couples, it’s a simple procedure requiring just to hand in the papers, for these two, it was a serious moment in which they held a press conference, a performance (?) to demand the guarantee of rights.
They hoped to be the first gay couple to be legally recognized as such, but the situation was tough. The Seodaemun-gu Office revealed that they wouldn’t accept their registration. As the two people directly involved who had prepared this for a long time, this setback could have discouraged them, yet Kim Jho Kwang Soo and Kim Seung Hwan were as cheerful and strong as before.
First, we asked them why they decided to send their marriage registration papers by mail. Initially, they had planned to hold a press conference in front of the Seodaemun-gu Office before handing in their documents in person, they changed their plan and decided to send the documents by mail and hold their press conference at the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy’s headquarters.
“First of all, [we changed the location because] it’s cold outside (laugh). It would have been hard to go into details about what we wanted to say if the press conference had been held outside. We thought there would have been unecessary nuisance that would have been no help to our purpose. We told ourselves to just send it by mail instead of going in person to the Office. The legal team will send the papers today, so they should be delivered some time tomorrow?”. (Kim Jho Kwang Soo)
“They said it’d be better if we didn’t go ourselves because the Office might have been paralyzed for the whole day.” (Kim Seung Hwan)
At first, the Seodaemun-gu Office said they’d accept their application and would let a Court decide if the marriage could be legally registered. However, after the press conference, a spokesperson from the Seodaemun-gu Office revealed that they wouldn’t accept their submission. They had no other choice but to file a lawsuit for their relationship to be legally recognized as a marriage.
“After the wedding, the Seodaemun-gu Office said they’d accept our application and they’d leave it to a Court to interpret the law, so I wonder if this decision to shred it was based on hatred. It makes no sense to reject our submission when the marriage institution defines the grounds for disqualification as being blood-related or underage which don’t apply in our case. Of course, our legal team had prepared for many different scenarios. Yet, we thought “but the world has changed?”.” (Kim Jho Kwang Soo)
Sometimes, they’re asked again what meaning holds the fact of being legally recognized as a couple. As they let the world know about their relationship, the couple feels a good disadvantage about their right to be a family.
“At first the problem was just about being legally registered or not. Either for our health insurance, the double taxes, the residence tax or even just to travel, we can’t enjoy the family advantages. We’re not even like those called unmarried couples out there [?].” (Kim Jho Kwang Soo)
“These things are trivials, but this situation is very embarrassing. Those in charge are also in confusion. We wanted to apply for a loan to get a lease not too long ago, the person in charge refused by stating the two people applying must be a married couple (husband and wife). We’re officially a couple. Just because we can’t be legally registered, we’re denied a lot of things and we’re disadvantaged.” (Kim Seung Hwan)
They don’t know if the lawsuit will take longer than they think. They may have to file a constitutional appeal. Many scenarios may happen, but film director Kim Jho Kwang Soo and CEO Kim Seung Hwan are optimistic. “The world has changed,” Kim Jho Kwang Soo said.
“If we look at this year, a lot of countries legalized same-sex marriage. Some countries acknowledge civil unions. Is there a reason for the Republic of Korea to go against the current movement? We think it’s time to fight. We will get the recognition in the end, but the problem is how long it will take to get there. What is unfortunate is that the era changed and we need to have a court case. This is giving up responsibility [?]. We hope that the Court will be half step ahead from society and gives us the recognition we ask for.” (Kim Jho Kwang Soo)
They carry a lot on their shoulders. Their couple is at the forefront of the gay rights movement. There seems to be a great amount of pressure and things to worry about, yet they still smile as they call it an honor. They share the same determination and their positive perspective.
“It became a pressure, but it’s still an honor. I think I’m looking forward to be at the head of the rights movement and I think I’m fortunate. I’m not scared.” (Kim Seung Hwan)
“When I meet people I give hope to, I tell myself that I’m doing well. Young people tell me that thanks to me, they now dream of marriage and equality. They thought that gay people had nothing to do with marriage, the fact itself they allow theymselves to think they can do it is different.” (Kim Jho Kwang Soo)
After talking about legal matters, they tried to change the heavy atmosphere, when they joked about how it’d be a problem if they were to get a divorce because they’re a national couple. “Then we can joke about how we were the first gay married couple and the first gay couple to get a divorce,” Kim Jho Kwang Soo laughed.
“When we make a choice, our happiness is our priority. We don’t want to become a couple just for show. We work hard on our everyday life in order to always make each other happy. If two people are not happy together, they’re right to get a divorce. Even if we break up, I think it will be a healthy breakup so I’m not scared of how people will look at it.” (Kim Seung Hwan)
As a film director and the CEO of a production company, they belong to the film industry. The experiences they went through this year like their wedding and the registration had an impact on their movies. Sometimes, they find amusing items in their married life.
“Not too long ago, I talked to the film-makers I’m friend with and told them about the changes our family is going through, they said it’d be fun if this was turned into a movie. The title would be “Into a male daugther-in-law” (laugh). The main character wouldn’t be the male daugther-in-law, it would be the family that we see change. Everyone told me not to make the film and to wait until I do it (t/n: I guess he talks about playing the role himself).” (Kim Jho Kwang Soo)
The couple is taking one step at a time toward the right for same-sex couple to get married. If they do become the first gay couple to be legally recognized in Korea, what will they do next?
“Whatever happens, we think a compromise such as a civil union can come out. A new form of family that wouldn’t just be based on love or blood ties but that would also exist between friends must be recognized. We think it’s important to change the family paradigm itself.” (Kim Seung Hwan)