Seo, who teaches at Yonsei University of Korea, created a homosexual student organization in 1995 called "Come Together." He states that "it would not be an overstatement to say that this was the first social movement through which homosesxuals could effect changes in their lives. The movement went beyond the ghettoized and marginalized locales, such as bars, theaters and saunas, where homosexual cultural and sexual activities were performed."
After the creation of Come Together, Seoul National University established another activist group called "Maum001" meaning "Heart 1% (1% of homosexual rights achieved). A loosely organized homosexual group Ch'odonghoe which was created a year before in 1994, was split into a gay group and a lesbian group, into stronger, more cohesive forces on their own.
As evident, the organizational forces of gays in Korea were bursting out just around 1995. There are two factors, one of the past and one of the then-current that I think attributes to this outburst.
The modern factor is the commercialization of internet. Korea, being the technologically centered country it is, was quick to implement the internet. Seoul is even called the "Bandwidth capital of the world." Today, South Korea has the highest ratio of DSL connections per head worldwide. Coincidentally, the internet boom also picked up rapid speed around the mid 1990s, as evident by the chart below:
Internet became an instant fascination in Korea and contributed its own number of sites to the world.
Internet did two things for gays in Korea: they could observe and be inspired by the gay community in the United States, and the gays could find other gays and realize the existence of people like them. The Korean gay community solidified thanks to the internet and it also found a spark from the activism in the States, as evident by rapid emergences of gay forums such as heavengay.com and toshare.com. For the first time for Korean gays, they had a safe, yet public outlet for their voice. They felt more confident, they felt more united. As Seo said, "At present, homosexuals generally do not hesitate to call themselves gay, and unlike before, from the time they first call themselves ay, they become aware of their own sexual identity.
"This is because a new homosexual community has arisen." And this rise created a tension between the procreative forces and the non-procreative forces.
Then on another point, Seo writes "it must be pointed out that these lesbian and gay communities are still centered around people in their twenties and early thirties."
Why this particular age group? Having a college network, especially during the time college activist groups, could play its part but then why the thirties who aren't in college, but not the forties and the fifties?
The fact that the movement revolves around 20 and 30-year-olds pushes us back to 70s and 80s- when they were growing up. Scientific studies on sexuality show that nurture in the first 5 years does play a significant role in defining sexuality. These people grew up being told not to have sex before marriage, not to procreate often.
Government policies 60-70-80. Too many people. Need to decrease population rate. So all these governmental projects to reduce birthrates. Propaganda Back then, korea known as one of the top dense places on earth. Overall, having kids is not a good thing- a first in the history of korea.
How's the economy then? 70s was bad.
One may ask here, if we are to follow Werner's theory, why didn't the gays break out in the 70s? The implication of Werner's theory is that when there is pressure on people to lower the birthrate, when the anti-natalist force gains the upper hand, the number of people experimenting in homosexuality will increase. This is not to say homosexuality will increase only when there is pressure to reduce the birthrate because many assert their sexuality without any pressures at all. But the birthrate pressure certainly is linked to rise in homosexuality.
And the 70s was hard for korea as well. There was much pressure to reduce birthrate then too. America had an explosion but korea did not. Korea had not yet been introduced the concept of love and sexual identity and the confucianist ideals were still very strong/overwhelming. It is only through accumulative western influences for the next thirty years that people develop a sense of identity and internet provided the final bridge to the western ideas. On the other hand, America already had a flourishing concept of homosexuality because the Europeans- the ancient Greeks and the Victorian age English were known to take part it in and this knowledge easily passed through into America.