04 November 2005

Preparing for Korea

Now that my business trip to Seoul has been confirmed and the airline tickets booked, I've been filling in the details of my activities and itinerary for my weeklong stay.

I'll shoot for staying at my late grandmother's empty place, if it's not rented out by then. That will allow me to have some privacy, run to nearby WiFi hotspots for quick Internet sessions, and most importantly, allow me to present myself as a woman on the streets of Seoul (and maybe Busan).

I spent this afternoon on Google, tracking down the ins and outs of the lesbian and transgender community in Korea. I found very little transgender info, and not enough info on whether the lesbians there will accept me as one of them. Given that the concept of a "tranny dyke" doesn't really exist in Asian cultures, I'll be a very big oddball.

I'll be in contact with the Belles of Queerea to get an idea of what to expect, and where I'll fit in the community. But then, I will need to pack the right clothes first, then have the privacy of the empty apartment, in order to allow me to make my rounds in the community. Otherwise, I'll have to be content retracing my childhood steps for the purposes of my memoir, and my novel characters' footsteps.

The institutionalized homophobia will be a major factor. Despite the human rights law prohibiting discrimination on sexual orientation, there are no specific legislations to protect me, and I may find the heavy security of Busan (the Asia-Pacific Economic Council will meet there during my stay, involving 21 heads of state, including W) a major hassle for me.