After Squid Game, here are the best LGBT-inclusive Korean dramas to binge immediately
If Squid Game has you hungry for more Korean drama, here are three of the best LGBT-inclusive shows.
Squid Game has overtaken Bridgerton as Netflix’s biggest new launch, becoming a cultural and viral sensation.
It seems that finally, English-speaking audiences are overcoming the “one inch tall barrier” of subtitles, as Parasite director Bong Joon-ho put it in his Golden Globe acceptance speech, with Korean dramas, or K-dramas, becoming more and more popular.
Squid Game was short on LGBT+ representation – the only explicitly queer character was one of the VIPs, who was incredible problematic.
Indeed, when it comes to K-dramas, it can be a harder to find queer stories. But over the years, a handful of shows have started to include well-written and nuanced arcs with LGBT+ characters. They might be brief, but these baby steps count towards more acceptance and understanding towards the queer community in the traditionally conservative country.
So with that in mind, here are some of the best LGBT+ representations in K-dramas for you to pick up when you’ve finished Squid Game.
Seonam Girls’ High School Investigators
This series – also known as Schoolgirl Detectives – follows five students who are members of their school’s private investigators club. They join together to solve mysteries involving their classmates and learn crucial life lessons along the way.
The compelling drama also made history by featuring the first-ever on-screen lesbian kiss on South Korean TV, when girlfriends Soo-yeon and Eun-bin shared an emotional moment and embrace in a library.
In the wake of backlash against the kiss, a spokesperson for the JTBC cable channel – which produced the show – said the kiss was included because it was “necessary to the plot”. They added that LGBT+ students told them that they receive “unfair treatment at school because of their sexual orientation” so they produced the drama “in hopes that diversity will become accepted”.
The Netflix Korean drama was arguably one of the biggest K-dramas to come out in 2020. Beyond a frankly amazing storyline, the show also included a transgender character, Ma Hyun-yi.
Hyun-yi gets a job at DanBam, a pub owned by Park Sae-roy-i, because they worked together at a factory. Far from playing a minor role, Hyun-yi is present throughout the series, and her arc is well written and beautifully done. It’s revealed in the series that Hyun-yi is saving up money for gender-affirming surgery.
And as the series progresses, fans see her feeling more comfortable in her gender identity, surrounded by a crew of friends and having a key role in their future.
Love With Flaws
Despite this drama’s plot focusing on a romance between opposite-sex leads, Love With Flaws has a wonderfully written arc about the lives of gay men – which honestly steals the spotlight from the main couple.
Choi Ho-Dol is coming to terms with his sexuality when he meets bartender Joo Won-seok at a gay bar. Their relationship explores coming out in a conservative society, the pressure of disappointing their families if they live their truths and also bullying faced by young LGBT+ people in South Korea.
After Ho-Dol is outed to his classmates, he is severely bullied. In honestly a heartwarming moment, Won-seok swoops in, sits next to Ho-Dol in class, puts his arm around him and effectively shuts the bullies down.
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