Although Korea seems to be extremely progressive, in reality, it is a lot more traditional when it comes to topics of gender and sexuality. Despite this obvious prejudice, it seems like more and more idols are taking the issues of homophobia into their own hands and using their music to combat the prejudices toward the LGBTQIA+ community.
One idol who has recently gained praise for his inclusivity and representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in his music is OnlyOneOf‘s Yoojung.
Yoojung became the first member of the group to drop to release his solo single as part of the group’s undergrOund idOl project. In particular, it was the title track “begin” that really caught the attention of netizens.
Yet, it was the storyline that really stuck out in people’s minds. As the song progressed, fellow member Kyubin appeared in the music video, and during the next few scenes, the two idols kept looking at each other, trying not to be caught by each other.
The looks then become more frequent as the two seem to be coming to terms with their thoughts on each other. As Kyubin leaves, Yoojung watches him with a look of what seems like interest.
Later in the video, Kyubin falls into the arms of Yoojung while he is in a telephone booth and he has seemingly been drinking.
The next scene skips to the morning and after a shoe appears on the sofa Yoojung is sitting on, it shows that the idol had taken Kyubin to his house after seeing that he was too drunk and it wasn’t safe.
After the incident, their next meeting is back at Yoojung’s place of work and there is a moment of both closeness and hesitation between the two men. It ends with lyrics that are repeated throughout, “When you’re free from any prejudice (Freedom will begin), We can begin, begin, begin, begin again, again.”
It seemingly points to the fact that Kyubin’s character doesn’t feel comfortable with being open about his sexuality due to prejudices on the topic of sexuality. Yet, only when he is free from them can the duo “begin.”
If anyone might have accused the idol of “Queerbaiting” (implying non-heterosexual relationships or attraction to attract audiences), the description of the video showcases a very different story.
In the words below the video, Yoojung’s words prove that his song is for those worldwide who are discriminated against because of who they love for various reasons.
Among the countless lovers in the world, there are also lovers that couldn’t be blessed. For whatever reasons. Religious reasons, things like parents’ disapproval. I dedicate this song to all those lovers that couldn’t be blessed.
When the song was released, netizens couldn’t stop praising the idol for the message of the song. Many also fought back at haters who have accused the group of “queerbaiting” in the past.
I DON'T WANT TO HEAR SHIT ABT ONLYONEOF QUEERBAITING EVER AGAIN. EVER. pic.twitter.com/hPRDQ11hJZ
— lou (@hyekoo) June 27, 2022
what really matters isn't their sexuality, but that in pride month they'll release a song that defends the idea of being free from any prejudice
as a queer person, having kpop artists explicitly saying this means a lot. and they chose Yoojung and KB to gives this message+
— ○○○ is my serotonin 🌈 (@ooo_serotonin) June 23, 2022
Those in the quote retweets of the original tweet from the group promoting the track also shared their appreciation for the song, adding that it was truly significant as the song was released during Pride Month.
Yet, Yoojung isn’t the only idol who has been praised for their inclusivity when it comes to releasing songs. At the end of 2021, MAMAMOO‘s Moobyul released her track “Shutdown,” featuring Seori.
Netizens noticed something special about the lyrics, which made them feel incredibly proud and touched. Looking at the words, it is a song that breaks the norms seen in K-Pop songs as Moonbyul has written a track that focuses on the relationship between two women.
This night is short. Oh, no worries. She said, ‘You can ruin me.’ She said, ‘Tonight…’
— Moonbyul and Seori
Although it seems like K-Pop has always been praised as idols often break gender norms the industry itself tends to be quite homophobic. Former JYP Entertainment trainee KilliAN revealed that he was actually kicked out of the agency after his homosexual relationship was discovered…
Openly gay idol Holland also suffered attacks because of his sexuality.
Hopefully, the track will help raise awareness and combat the prejudices many Koreans still have. The fact that it was released during Pride Month has touched the hearts of netizens who have been able to relate to the song.
You can read more about idols showing support for the LGBTQI+ community below.