Gay Korean TV presenter Hong Seok-cheon has announced that he’s broken up with his boyfriend after a ‘netizen’ witch-hunt to out him.
Hong said in an interview that he and his boyfriend broke up because of citizen gossip columnists. ‘We broke up because the netizens kept digging up who he was. He couldn’t stand becoming an issue,’ he said.
Hong added that the double pressure of being gay and in the public eye in South Korean meant that he doubts his ability to be in a relationship.
While being interviewed by a TV chat show called Shocking in March Hong revealed that he had a boyfriend who was in his 20s.
On another TV show in April Hong said that he regretted revealing any details of his relationship and since he did his boyfriend has felt like he’s being watched. ‘It’s gotten to a point where I'm wondering whether I should let him go,’ said Hong.
South Korea is a very socially conservative country and Hong is the only fully out gay celebrity. When he came out in 2000 he was fired from presenting a children’s TV show. Since then he has become a restauranteur and film actor.
In an interview with The New York Times in 2003, Hong talked about coming out: ‘I realized that to lead a happy life, I should come out and tell people who I really am… When I went to New York, San Francisco and Amsterdam, people were living freely and normally there. I thought that Korean society should change. Someone had to carry the cross.’