Elska editor Liam Campbell tells GSN about the process of putting together the Seoul issue of his LGBTI-inclusive magazine Elska.
‘After 22 issues made in cities all over the world, Seoul was absolutely the most difficult place to work in because it was so hard to find participants. We talked to literally hundreds of guys. Most wanted to stay “discreet”, afraid of what would happen if family or co-workers found out that they were gay.
‘It was only through the help of some fantastic local artists, activists, and drag queens that we managed to make the issue a success.
‘Another difficulty with making the issue in Seoul was that nowhere else did we encounter the same level of low self-esteem. Here so many men insisted that they were “ugly” or “not special”. It’s not surprising if you watch any Kpop video. Korean media is full of the most “perfect” and unattainable standards of beauty. It made it so hard to convince anyone that they are actually worthy and beautiful.
‘We had a lot of requests to visit Korea’
‘This is our fourth issue to be made in Asia, after working in Taiwan, Japan, and India previously. We had a lot of requests to visit Korea, and so we did it. And next time we’ll be in Asia again, but I’m not revealing just yet where.
‘The stories in this issue are some of the best of any Elska. One highlight is from a guy called Uin L. He recounts a trip to a traditional Korean spa (a jjimjilbang). There, he was flirted with multiple times but struggles to give let go of his self-consciousness.
‘Another story highlight comes from a guy called Ivan J. He shared a long afternoon of vegetable-aided masturbation, set to hymnal Bach and other religious imagery. It’s definitely one of the most unusual Elska pieces we’ve had!
‘For the first time we did a night shoot’
‘Another problem we encountered in Seoul, which turned out to not be a problem, was that people here work insanely hard and had little time to meet up. This meant that for the first time we did a night shoot. It was daunting considering that it’s part of Elska’s aesthetic to not use flash and artificial light. But we’re really happy with the results and will certainly do more in the future.
‘Although at first it was hard to find participants, in the end we had too many guys to fit into the magazine.
‘That’s why four guys are instead published in our companion zine called “Elska Ekstra Seoul”. This is available for download or in a very limited edition 100-copy print version.’
Same-sex sex is legal in South Korea