Som Hye In, a former contestant of Mnet’s music survival show Idol School, admitted that she is bisexual through a series of Instagram posts a few days ago.
The 22-year-old posted on Instagram photos of her holding hands and kissing a woman on the cheek, with the captions “Chu chu my girlfriend” and “My lovely girl”.
She also posted an Instagram story, telling people to respect her girlfriend.
In another Instagram story, she acknowledged that she was coming out as a bisexual through the Instagram posts and said she was in a same-sex relationship. She also thanked people who sent in messages in support of her and her girlfriend.
But this was, in fact, not the first time she admitted she is bisexual. On July 31, she posted an Instagram post with the same revelation.
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Hye In had announced that she was dropping out of Idol School after the first episode was aired on July 13. She revealed that she was battling anorexia and wished to concentrate on getting well.
Around the same time, one of her former schoolmates alleged that Hye In had bullied her in middle school.
The idol came forward to clarify that she didn’t take part in the bullying, but was simply a bystander who did nothing. She added that she, too, was a victim of bullying and apologised for her actions.
The classmate then uploaded screenshots of their conversations on Messenger, which showed that Hye In had taken part in the bullying. The idol said she would be taking legal actions against malicious comments in a now-deleted Instagram post.
To our knowledge, Hye In is the second active K-pop idol to openly admit that she belongs to a sexual minority, after singer Holland.
Homosexuality remains a taboo in South Korea and it’s not common for celebrities—or even regular people—to admit that they’re part of the LGBTQ society because of the social stigma and fear of becoming a target of hate crimes.
And their fears may not be unfounded. A Gallup Korea poll in 2017 found that 58% of South Koreans were against same-sex marriage. Only 34% were for it, while 8% were undecided. In the same year, a similar survey was done for MBC and Speak of the National Assembly, and it found that 52% of the population was against same-sex marriages, while 41% said it should be allowed.
In September 2018, a pride parade that took place in Incheon was delayed after 1,000 anti-gay protestors went down to stage protests at the venue, which led to physical and verbal altercations.
Hong Seok Cheon, one of the most prominent gay celebrities in South Korea, came out in 2000. In 2013, he appeared on a talk show, Healing Camp, in which he spoke about his experience as a sexual minority in the country. He said that at least 10 of his friends left him after they found out that he’s gay. He adopted his sister’s children to be their legal guardian, but said he stayed away from their school because he was afraid they might be bullied or be made fun of because of him.