Photo by Gowun Lee from "I'm Here with You," a project about the LGBTQIA community in South Korea. The majority of LGBTQ people in South Korea hide their true identities from their colleagues, friends, and families. Despite a recent surge in LGBTQIA activism, Korea remains a very conservative country and those who come out face being disowned by family or dismissed from their employers. Many Koreans still express bitter hostility toward LGBTQIA people, while others simply deny their existence. The Korean military actively hunts down gay soldiers, going so far as to mount sting operations using gay dating phone applications. And when someone does come out, parents and family members often choose to ignore the truth.
"I'm Here with You" literally and metaphorically represents sexual minorities living in Korea who are forced to hide their sexual identity. The LGBTQIA individuals photographed—all facing away from the camera—remind us of how Korean society continues to neglect and refuse to accept them. By creating these images, Gowun's intent is to both implicate the viewer in the nation’s larger refusal to acknowledge the identity of LGBTQIA individuals and, more importantly, to spur us all to take action and change this attitude once and for all.