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Monday, December 16, 2013

[NEWS] Jonghyun shows his support for equal rights

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SHINee's Jonghyun has been grabbing the attention of the Twitter-sphere in Korea, for all the right reasons.
 
Fans and followers of Jonghyun's personal Twitter account came to notice the change in his profile picture. What used to be a photo of English actor, Benedict Cumberbatch's note to the paparazzi, "Go photograph Egypt and show the world something important", is now one of an open letter written in response to a movement in Korea called, "Hello? Are You Okay?".
 
This movement has started nationwide in Korea, with the aim of raising awareness about the ignorance, indifference, and unfair treatment that many citizens have been experiencing in the country. The movement started off with a letter written by a university student. The letter asked, "Are you okay?"; its question being directed to all in Korea, and it also highlighted the political and economical problems that has affected thousands of people. The letter soon gained the attention of students across the universities in Korea, and many began to write in "replies". The Facebook page for this movement has garnered over 160,000 hundred "likes", and people have been gathering on the streets in the support of this campaign.
 
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The photo of the open letter on Jonghyun's profile picture is one of those "replies". It talks about sexual minority and gay rights issues. 
Here is a full translation of the letter.
 
No matter what name you call us, we are not "annyeong(well)"
Last April, the third attempt to enact anti-discrimination legislation was turned down because of those who loathe equality. In September, Kim-Jo Kwang Soo and Kim Seung Hwan publicly held a same sex wedding for the first time in Korea. There were disturbances such as human excrements being thrown onto the stage, but Kim-Jo Kwang Soo and Kim Seung Hwan marched down the aisle with pride, as to prove that “love is stronger than hate.” But a few days ago, their marriage registration was denied. Also, some people voiced ridiculous claims that textbooks should discuss the issue of the humans rights of sexual minorities as a topic you agree or disagree with.
 
Many of you who read this will think like this: how on earth does this concern me or the state of current affairs? But because I know him (Kim-Jo Kwang Su), I can tell you this. Whether you are pleased with this or not, this is the story of the world that sexual minorities, including myself, live through, who dine, take classes, study, and have debates with with all of you. This is another side of the current affairs of the society we live in. 
 
Yes, I am a sexual minority. I am a male to female transgender person and I am bisexual. I am a woman. I am of the “880,000 Won” generation. I am a college student. I am one of the inheritors of the working class. What more names can you call me by? There will be no end if you tried to enumerate them one by one. It’s not just me, but probably all of you are living in the present, who are being called by numerous names. 
(T/N: 880,000 Won Generation refers to the demographic of Korea in their 20’s that suffered employment instability around 2007.)
 
But I am not okay, not at peace at any moment, with whichever name I am being called. Today’s Korean society not only can’t enact an anti-discrimination law, but discriminates against sexual minorities on a daily basis, throws rampant unfair criticism and hatred towards females, exploits the young generation, and forces college students to be absorbed with employment instead of academics. Which name should I be called by in order to be at ease?
 
Someone asked us this, "Are you guys annyeong," whether we are doing well. That’s what I’m saying. Are we all well when we’re relieved that another's pain is “not mine,” growing accustomed to closing our eyes and blocking our ears in order to protect our own lives? How well can we be in a cold-hearted world when it continuously presses us to give up empathy?
 
I’m not saying that we all should pour out on the streets and start throwing stones. It’s just that, if this story of asking whether all of us living today are "annyeong (well)" provides an opportunity to look into the face of the person next to you and call their name, I think this has been worthwhile. As the world becomes lonelier, I think, contrary to our belief, the way for us to become ‘well’ is nearby. Right now, please ask the person next to you, "Are you well?"
 
From snowy Sungkonghoe University,
Kim Eun-ha, Department of Social Sciences
 
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The netizens of Korea have praised Jonghyun for his political awareness and support for the minority, but what really caught the attention of many others was a screenshot of a direct Twitter message the idol had sent to the author of the letter:
 
JH: I’m sending this message because I wasn’t sure if you may suffer by getting unwanted attention or have things made into an issue because of my tweet. As an entertainer, as another kind of minority facing the public, I feel at loss towards a world that does not accept differences. Of course it doesn’t compare to anything you went through. I support you for speaking out that different doesn’t mean wrong. I don’t think you’re a person who needs consolation or worries. You are that strong. I wish for your health and for a good end of the year.
 
AUTHOR: Thank you very much. I don’t know what words can express my heart...thank you. Truly, Thank you. I will most surely strengthen up. And you too, Jonghyun-nim, be careful not to catch a cold and stay warm around the end of the year.
 
As the screenshot circulated around the internet, praises for Jonghyun's thoughtful gesture began to pour in, and many have expressed their gratitude for his support in the campaign. Multiple Korean news sites have also published articles about his support, proving that it only takes a spark to get a fire going.
 
Translated by: pixiecloude @ shineee.net
Written by: debsayys @ shineee.net

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