back to top

Seoul's Pride Events Are Off To A Pretty Terrible Start

What was meant to be the festive opening ceremony of the Korean Queer Cultural Festival on Tuesday was mostly overshadowed by anti-LGBT protesters with signs and drums.

Posted on

The anti-LGBT protesters had set up in front of the Seoul city hall hours before the event was due to take place.

Turnout for the kickoff was sparse, in large part because organizers had discouraged people not directly involved in organizing it to attend citing concerns about the outbreak of the respiratory illness known as MERS. But anti-LGBT activists have mounted an all-out campaign to shut down the Queer Cultural Festival, including successfully blocking the group's application to hold a pride parade by filing competing permit requests for the parade route.


"Ban Ki-moon: If your son wants to marry a man, if your daughter wants to marry a woman, do you really accept homosexuality?" read this sign addressed to the U.N. secretary general, who is from South Korea.

Simon Williams-Im / Via

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly called on member states to respect the human rights of LGBT people.

Protesters also held signs denouncing Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon.

Simon Williams-Im / Via

Mayor Park backed a human rights charter last year that included protections for LGBT people, but ultimately withdrew the proposal in the face of stiff opposition. This led LGBT rights activists to temporarily occupy city hall in protest.


This is how it sounded.

View this video on YouTube

The Queer Cultural Festival opening ceremony did ultimately take place with about 150 people in attendance.

Anti-LGBT protesters reportedly continued to rally in front of city hall on Wednesday.

Confrontations are expected to continue leading up to June 28, when Queer Culture Festival organizers have vowed to hold a pride parade in defiance of the police ban. Before being denied the parade permit, organizers had projected 20,000 people would attend.

J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211

Contact J. Lester Feder at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.