South Korean pioneer of gay rights passed away. He was just 32


Rest in peace, Justin Lim . The cause of the death is not known and the local media almost ignored it because most Koreans have no idea who Lim was, although he was the founder of the most famous LGBT venues in the country. Lim was an icon of Itaewon – also known as Homo Hill – Seoul’s bustling LGBTI district. One of Lim’s most famous creations was Le Queen. It was a small bar which hosted drag shows and turned into a sweaty dance club at 4am. Before Lim the LGBT Koreans preferred not to express their sexuality in everyday life, but Lim did not hide. He wanted to set up clubs for the ‘everyday gays’ but he also organised casual meet-up events and a dining space. These ideas allowed LGBTI people in Seoul to freely socialise any day of the week in a range of settings. Lim often hosted HIV fundraising and promoted the rights of South Koreans living with HIV.‘In ways most of us will not notice at first, his legacy will leave a lasting impression on South Korean culture for many years to come,’ wrote Chris P on Korea Exposé, ‘His death was not covered by the media; most South Koreans still do not know his name. But for those who knew him, as evidenced by Lim’s heavily attended funeral and the online outpouring of grief, he was an inspiration and a heavyweight figure within the South Korean LGBT community. For young gay South Koreans letting themselves go in the trenches of Gay Itaewon, it is easy to forget that things were never as accessible as they are today. It is thanks to people like Justin Lim that they are able to express themselves as publicly as they do now.’


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