By Bae Ji-sook
Does watching a TV drama featuring a homosexual relationship cause men to become gay?
The Ministry of Justice and some parents apparently think so.
The ministry ordered the authorities in charge of managing correctional facilities nationwide to stop showing "Life is Beautiful"
, an SBS TV drama, to inmates from Aug. 4, expressing fear that the portrayed gay relationship in the show would negatively affect prisoners.
The ministry runs the "Borami" network, which records TV programs and reruns them for inmates. "Life is Beautiful"
used to air every Wednesday.
"The program was promoted as a family drama. However, the focus seemed to have moved to a gay relationship, which does not suit the purpose of the Borami network", a ministry official said.
Gay rights activists stepped up and asked for the withdrawal of the ruling. Chingusai, one of the largest gay networks here, the Korean Sexual-Minority Culture and Rights Center and the Catholic Minority's Rights Committee have recently sent a letter to the ministry requesting the factual basis that lies beneath its allegation.
"It is an obvious discrimination against minorities in society", a member of the center said.
"Life is Beautiful"
, written by Kim Su-hyun
, one of Korea's most influential playwrights, features a gay couple — Tae-seop and Gyeong-su — who develop mutual feelings from friendship to love.
They struggle to convince their conservative families — in the program, Tae-seop's uncle calls them "dirty" and Gyeong-su's mother calls them "subhumane" — and fight social prejudices against homosexuality.
The drama received generally warm reviews from the gay community because it described the real obstacles homosexual people encounter in their lives. It is also one of the highest rated weekend dramas.
The program was the talk of the town when a group of parents published an advertisement on the front page of a local daily on Sept. 29. The ad reads: "The drama beautified lives of gay men, which are morally and ethically wrong. If my son becomes gay after watching the drama develops AIDS and dies, the program producers should take full responsibility for it".
The group claimed that the chance of a homosexual getting AIDS is 730 percent higher than straight people and that the drama is stimulating young people to explore homosexuality.
The ad has caused a stir, prompting psychologists, gay rights activists, conservatives and others to "refute" that homosexuality is not "infectious" through TV dramas or other cultural events. They also claimed the ad has provoked homophobia in society.
"It's time we implement a law against all forms of discrimination", a member of Chingusai said.
동성애를 다룬 드라마를 보면 게이가 될까?
법무부와 몇몇 학부모 단체들은 그러한 듯 하다.
법무부는 교정시설에서 방영되고 있는 SBS 드라마 인생은 아름다워의 재방영을 중지시켰다. 교화에 도움이 안된다는 이유 때문이다.