Solo K-Pop idol HOLLAND recently made headlines but for unfortunate reasons.
As one of the first and only openly gay K-Pop idols, often using his platform to advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights in a still conservative South Korea, he suffered as a victim of a hate crime.
On April 6 (KST), HOLLAND posted that he had been a victim of a homophobic attack where someone in Itaewon assaulted him the previous night. He recounted the experience on social media, including Twitter and Instagram. He explained that he had been walking around Itaewon with his manager and friend when he was called a slur before being assaulted.
Last night, I was walking around Itaewon with my manager and a friend. Suddenly, a stranger man approached me and hit me on the face twice, calling me ‘a dirty gay’. Now I have a scar on my face and I’m going to the hospital soon. This is obviously a hate crime. The fact that my sexuality as gay is public should never expose myself to this kind of violence. Nor any other LGBT+ and all elders, women and minorities in this world. This happening in 2022 shows the sad reality of LGBT+ human rights.
I reported to the police and I hope the case is well solved.
This should never happen to anybody in this world, no matter who you are. I wish our world is filled with more love and hope rather than hate and violence.
Over the course of the past week, HOLLAND had posted an update that caused many fans to be concerned. He expressed a need to be “stronger.”
i need to be stronger
— HOLLAND (@HOLLAND_vvv) May 6, 2022
Fans attempted to encourage him and assure him that it was not him that needed to be stronger. Instead, the world needed to do better.
Now, HOLLAND has shared an additional update regarding his condition via Billboard in an interview with Jeff Benjamin.
I had a busy few days going to the hospital and the police station. Currently, no bones are injured, only bruises and scars. I was really surprised by what happened, but I’m fine now.
HOLLAND also went into more detail about what exactly happened the night of the hate crime against him.
As it says on Instagram, my friend and manager were with me, and this man began cursing at me for being gay. So he tried to get into a fight with me and tried to attack me. My manager was desperately defending me and trying to stop him, but he didn’t and continued coming at me. Once I got hit in the face is when I got angry and cursed at him. And then I got hit again. [Laughs]
He updated us on the situation regarding the assailant. Thankfully, they were caught and even pleaded guilty.
After he attacked me, he ran away and seemed to have disappeared. We tried to find him, but we couldn’t. But while we were reporting the incident to the police station, he was actually taken into the police station for obstruction of traffic. So I pointed out that he was the one who hit me, and he was immediately taken away by police. The police station told me that he was taken in by police that day and was held in the station until the morning. In that time, he pleaded guilty to all the charges we brought up over the attack. And there was a video of my friend filming him [during the attack] so we had hard evidence.
He also specified that he does believe that the reason he was assaulted was, in fact, that he was gay, making it a homophobic crime.
I guess it’s because my outfit that day was flamboyant. And the fact that I’m an openly gay K-pop artist with a publicly known face.
As Billboard is an American publication, they were curious to hear more regarding if LGBTQIA+ people are protected. So, HOLLAND was asked, “This is also complicated, but are LGBTQ people in South Korea protected from these specific kinds of attacks?” He reiterated that, at this time, there is not.
As gay people, we do not feel that we are properly protected because there is no ‘anti-discrimination law’ in our country yet. If you call the police [in a situation like this], it’s just an assault case. It doesn’t include any particular hate crime.
If the fact that laws in Korea do not protect the LGBTQIA+ community is not upsetting enough, it’s HOLLAND’s next statements. He explained that though he was injured, malicious comments online hurt him even more.
Billboard: What were your injuries? Did you go to a hospital?
HOLLAND: I went to a large hospital [emergency room] where they examined and treated me. I got a bruise on the back of my nose, to the side of my nose and on my left eye.
Billboard: Oh, I’m really sorry.
HOLLAND: No, I’m fine. I got hurt more by the malicious comments than when I got hit. [Laughs]
He explained that the news of the homophobic attack against him made news both internationally and in Korea. Yet, while the comments in the United States especially were sympathetic towards HOLLAND, Korean commenters were not so much.
Billboard: There were malicious comments towards you after the attack?
HOLLAND: It became a news story in Korea and there were many homophobic comments in the comment sections of the article.
Billboard asked HOLLAND if he would say anything to those who leave such comments. Still, HOLLAND proved his genuine heart by implying he would continue to be a victim of hate as long as the future LGBTQIA+ generation would go unscathed.
Please, swear at only me if you can so that other LGBTQ kids won’t be hurt.
This sparked Billboard to ask if he had been threatened before, particularly online. He replied that he tries to stay away from that.
I don’t know because I don’t read the comments.
HOLLAND also addressed the tweet in which he told the internet he needed to be “stronger.”
It was how I felt at the time. But I did read the comments under that tweet and was nearly mentally destroyed after seeing the malicious and mean comments, but I still wanted to push myself harder to be stronger.
i need to be stronger
— HOLLAND (@HOLLAND_vvv) May 6, 2022
The interview concluded with HOLLAND sharing what he hopes others will take away from the heartbreaking story. He wants to raise awareness that such hate crimes still occur while also comforting those struggling.
I want people to recognize the pain as well as the courage that’s allowing me to share my story. I want those who are feeling lonely to be comforted, but I also want people who take things for granted and live without the fear of being attacked to be shocked because these crimes do exist.
HOLLAND delivered a final message of hope for fellow LGBTQIA+ young people. He always speaks out with the goal of making a better tomorrow for them.
Don’t be discouraged. It will only get better.
And, HOLLAND reassured fans that he wants to continue being others’ hope and strength more than anything.
I don’t want people to worry about Holland. Instead, I want to be a person who gives hope and strength to others.
Likewise, HOLLAND shared similar sentiments before, especially regarding his “I’m Not Afraid” MV’s R-rating due to the BL (Boy Love) kiss scene.
The recent homophobic attack against HOLLAND certainly has been slowly but surely making a difference. It recently sparked a conversation among netizens online regarding homophobia in South Korea, especially in K-Pop. Read more below: