Artists and critics are calling for cultural tolerance from conservative Christian groups who are staging a series of protests against U.S. pop star Lady Gaga, accusing her of advocating homosexuality and pornography.
Some churches in Seoul held group prayers or services against Lady Gaga, one of today’s most influential artists, while others are holding protests in front of the Hyundai Card head office building, calling on the company, the official sponsor of the concert, to cancel it.
“This clearly shows how Korean society still lacks cultural tolerance and how we are not ready to recognize cultural and social diversity yet,” culture critic Seo Jung Min-gaph told The Korea Herald.
Seo Jung pointed out that those Christian groups seem to believe that their religious value is greater than one’s freedom of expression. This, he said, is very wrong.
“They also have the right to voice their own ideas. But they have failed to respect others. In fact, it is really hard to say that Lady Gaga is mainly responsible of homosexuality or decadent sexual expression,” he said.
Korean pop artist Nancy Lang also stepped into the debate.
“Jesus told us to love each other. Lady Gaga is also telling us to love sexual minorities like gays but (her intention) looks unlikely to promote homosexuality,” Lang wrote on her Twitter account.
Protesters from Korean Association of Church Communication (KACC) and Alliance for Sound Culture in Sexuality have gained momentum, particularly after the Korea Media Rating Board gave an over-18 rating to the concert, saying her song “Just Dance,” to be performed at the concert, is “inappropriate” for minors.
After the age restriction imposed to the Gaga’s show, members of KACC said they were “relieved” to hear the news.
“We are relieved that at least the show won’t be able to influence young people,” said Sim Man-sup of the Christian organization, in a recent interview. “Gaga’s performance and lyrics are very eccentric in many ways. We are not against her show just for religious reasons. We don’t think her musical performance, which involves so much sexual connotations and unusual costumes, is appropriate for youngsters‘ emotional development.”
However, gay rights advocates here say that the groups are taking advantage of Lady Gaga’s presence in Seoul to promote their anti-homosexuality campaign.
“These groups have long been protesting against gays and lesbians in Korea by exercising violence whenever we hold campaigns (to raise public awareness on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues),” said Lee Hyuk-sang, director of “Miracle on Jongno Street (2011),” the country’s first documentary movie about gays.
“As a gay person, I really envy Lady Gaga and her star power that has lifted many sexual minorities from the underground and allowed them to speak about who they really are. I wish we could have someone else like her here. But no, society is still not ready for that,” he said.
The news of the religious groups’ protests against Lady Gaga grabbed international attention through reports filed by news wire services, shortly after her arrival in Seoul last week.
However, Lady Gaga hasn’t said a word since arriving in Seoul even though news coverage of the protests against her are running almost every day.
“I think Lady Gaga is being targeted by the Christian groups here particularly because she’s a woman,” Seo Jung said.
Despite the gravity of the issue, artists and celebrities in Korea are hesitant to comment on it.
“I don’t want to make any comment on this issue because I don’t want to be targeted by those Christian groups,” said a Korean celebrity who declined to be identified.