South Korea's Supreme Court Overturns Restrictive Rating for Gay Romance Film

3:23 AM PST 11/14/2013 by Lee Hyo-won
"Just Friends?"

The court cited human rights reasons for annulling the Korea Media Rating Board's "conservative" rating for Kim Jho Gwang-soo's "Just Friends?"

SEOUL – The South Korean Supreme Court overturned Thursday a Korea Media Rating Board (KMRB) decision for a local gay romance, claiming the conservative rating potentially threatened the human rights of the LGBT community.

Kim Jho Gwang-soo's Just Friends? is a 30-minute romantic comedy about a young gay couple in their 20s. The 2009 film humorously portrays the trials and tribulations the two face before entering the mandatory two-year military service for Korean men.

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Kim Jho requested a 15-and-over rating for featuring a heavy kiss scene. But the KMRB categorized it "teenagers restricted," calling it "hazardous for teenagers due to body exposure as well as detailed and direct portrayals of sexual encounters."

The film's production company Generation Blue Films filed an administrative litigation against KMRB for "the unfair ruling due to tackling homosexuality," and the court ruled in its favor.

"It is difficult to discern direct or detailed portrayals of elements that are provocative or dangerously prone to mimicking, compared to other films rated teenagers restricted," said a statement by the Supreme Court. "Considering homosexuality as a hazard, and thereby making restrictions, imposes serious limitations on the human rights, rights to purse happiness, and other rights of sexual minorities."

"It took four years for the third revision of my film, but the court has ruled that the rating board's decision was wrong," said director Kim Jho. "I don't think the board's conservative decision-making inclinations will change, but I expect them to take the court ruling into account when they review my film."

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Meanwhile, Kim Jho made headlines earlier this year by holding the country's first public gay wedding ceremony with Kim Seung-hwan, CEO of queer film production/distribution company Rainbow Factory. The two tied the knot on Sept. 7 on an open stage by the crowded Cheonggye Stream in downtown Seoul, though not without a little protest from some conservative onlookers.

The couple announced on Nov. 10 that they will take legal measures to register their marriage, with plans to file an administrative litigation and constitutional appeal as Korea has yet to legalize same-sex marriages.

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