Popular South Korean K-Pop singer and actor Holland said he was the victim of a homophobic attack last week. Holland, one of the few out gay K-Pop singers, said he was attacked on May 5, while he was walking in the Itaewon neighbourhood in Seoul. 

Trigger Warning: This story has details and visuals of a homophobic attack, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

The Itaewon area, where the incident occurred is the popular LGBTQI night life district in South Korea.

“Last night, I was walking around Itaewon with my manager and a friend. Suddenly, a stranger man approached me and hit me on the face twice, calling me ‘a dirty gay’,” Go Tae-seob, better known by his stage name Holland, shared on social media along with photographs of the aftermath of the attack.

Anti-Gay Hate Crime

The photo showed bruises to his head and face. “Now I have a scar on my face and I’m going to the hospital soon,” said Holland, and added that he had no doubt that this was a hate attack on account of his sexual orientation. 


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A post shared by HOLLAND (@holland_vvv)

“This is obviously a hate crime. The fact that my sexuality as gay is public should never expose myself to this kind of violence. Nor any other LGBT+ and all elders, women and minorities in this world. This happening in 2022 shows the sad reality of LGBT+ human rights,” said the singer. Holland said he had reported the attack to the police and expressed hope that they would solve it soon. 

“This should never happen to anybody in this world, no matter who you are. I wish our world is filled with more love and hope rather than hate and violence,” said Holland. There was an outpouring of support for Holland on social media.

Facing Bullies In School

Holland is the first out gay K-Pop singer in South Korea, and made his debut in 2018 with the single ‘Neverland‘. The single raked up over one million views  within 24 hours. In 2022, he was cast in the Korean boy-love drama Ocean Like Me

Holland has previously spoken about being bullied in school after he came out to a friend. He said that many agencies had advised him against coming out, before he made his debut. 

In March, Holland revealed that he was seeing someone. “I have a boyfriend. He’s very handsome and kind, tall,” Holland told his followers on social media, though he did not reveal the identity of his boyfriend. “I wanna marry him,” said Holland.


LGBTQI Rights In South Korea

According to Human Rights Watch, LGBTQI people in South Korea continue to “face hostility and severe discrimination”, especially in the military. The push for anti-discrimination law reforms have been stymied by opposition from Christian conservative groups. 

“Discrimination against women is pervasive, as well as discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, racial and ethnic minorities, and foreign migrants and refugees,” said HRW.

“In schools, LGBT children and young people experience severe isolation and mistreatment including bullying and harassment, a lack of confidential mental health support, exclusion from school curricula, and gender identity discrimination,” added HRW. 


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A post shared by HOLLAND (@holland_vvv)

Last year, Holland had in a post spoken out against the “widespread discrimination” faced by the LGBTQI community in South Korea. “A social survey shows that 57.1% of South Koreans are opposed to homosexuality,” said Holland and cited a news story about how in mid 2020 a COVID-19 outbreak linked to Itaewon “also brought about a wave of anti-LGBTQ sentiments in the media.”


If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.


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