Last month, a party commemorating the launch of LGBT magazine Duiro took place in the basement of the I.T.W. Hotel in Itaewon. After years of attending LGBT events in the darkest corners of Seoul, it felt intimidating to walk into a brightly lit and professionally administered official event by myself. But my worries disappeared as soon as I stepped into the party and the magazine staff greeted me warmly. The crowd was an energetic and optimistic one that included members of the LGBT community and their allies, who had all come together to celebrate the launch of Duiro, a term in Korean that means “backwards,” published by Appuro Press or, translated, Forward Press. On what grounds was Duiro founded and what exactly is it the magazine wants to say? Here are seven things you should know about the magazine.
Duiro is a LGBT magazine created by editor Kim Chul-min and two designers, Lee Kyungmin and Lee Do-jin. The two designers are college friends who quit their jobs to create Appuro Press, a design firm. While working on various design jobs, they had the opportunity to participate in LGBT-related projects and creating a magazine for LGBT people. They felt a vacuum in the media for LGBT voices and wanted to show change in a positive light. Appuro Press will be the publisher for all the Duiro magazines.
The names are witty innuendos, but that’s not all there is to them. When making the magazine, Appuro Press got donations through Tumblebug (a social crowdfunding site where anyone can “push” ideas to donate an amount of their choice), and their motto was: “Let’s put
ourselves in the back and go forward.”
Though Appuro Press understood that a 10 million won goal on Tumblebug sounded quite ambitious, all three of them had worked in the publishing industry before and understood that it was the kind of money they needed to start this type of magazine. Though none of them had tried crowdfunding before, they reached their goal within just one week! (And they’re super grateful to everyone that donated).
The military takes hundreds of Korean men from society every year. That process comes with various side effects. One serious problem is the blatant disregard for sexual minorities before, during and after military service. (Imagine what it’s like to be a trans-woman having to endure a physical checkup for the military!) They wanted to give voice to the conflict and pain that come with being silenced within the bounds of the uber-masculine military structure, as well as detailing the romances that can blossom.
Nothing is set in stone for the next issue, but they have a strict philosophy and vision. They want the magazine to be circulated not only in the LGBT community but also amongst straight circles. They’ll deal with sensitive issues that aren’t always easy to talk about, but also work to disintegrate the wall between LGBT and straight communities and provoke dialogue.
Instead of relying on “fun” articles that appeal to the general public, the magazine provides many photographs and infographics. The topics it addresses are also no walk in the park.
It can be found in Sunny Bookstore, the LGBT bookstore in Itaewon, and other bookshops focusing on independently published books. Duiro will also be stocked in select, small bookstores in the beginning of February. The second issue is expected to hit the shelves in the late summer.
Usadan-gil is on the rise these days. Exotic restaurants, shabby buildings and tangled electrical wires weave together to make the street come to life. However, things are hard to find and you might be disappointed if it’s your first time visiting this area. But once you start to discover the fun spaces that young artists have created here and there, you’ll realize why this place is gaining more and more attention. A bookstore specializing in LGBT readings that opened here last fall is one of those spots. The bookstore owner wasn’t too happy that most of the LGBT culture was centered around clubs and bars, so he started this little shop for those who also wanted a comfy, cozy place people can hang around during the day. You can get well-known magazines and books that you’ll never be able to find at your common bookstore as well as independently published novels, essays, cartoons and more. They also sell posters, fans, badges, bracelets and other accessories related to the LGBT community. The bad news is there aren’t enough books published within Korea to feature in this store. But the good news is Sunny Books will now be involved in publishing, translating foreign books and investing in creative writing for the LGBT community. “My wish is for people to express themselves with confidence instead of shrink into a corner simply because they are a sexual minority,” says the owner. However, keep in mind that Sunny Books will only open on the weekends until April of next year. By J