On January 15, 2022 history was made at the N Seoul Tower. For the first time ever, an exhibition was held by a queer artist (Sangmin Lee) at N Seoul Tower. It was a special event that those who attended will never forget. Attendees of the LGBTQ+ event came to both admire beautiful artwork and to enjoy the first drag show ever held at a national South Korean landmark.
“For this show, I decided to bring one of our cultures [aspects of LGBTQ+ culture] through a pair of drag queens I’ve known for over 10 years because my solo exhibition as a queer artist isn’t just about me,” said Sangmin Lee, the featured artist whose artistic career began in 2014. “I believe that this art form of expression will speak louder than words to people.”
The exhibition featured several works of art. The main idea behind the artist’s work was to focus on his roots — exposing his identity, especially his sexuality.
“I remember when I was in middle school and high school, hiding in the corner, bullied day after day, thinking something was wrong with me until Lady Gaga made her debut,” said Sangmin Lee. “She made me realize that somewhere in this world, people like me exist and accept me no matter how ‘weird’ I was.”
The artist and host of the LGBTQ+ event conveyed his message through art and performance. Queer people in Korea have struggled but they are loved and belong to a community.
“ I want to show that you are not wrong and you are worthy of love and belonging, and this is why I have dedicated my life to making art,” said Sangmin Lee.
A Performance That Made History
On what would have otherwise been an ordinary, cold winter day became a day filled with laughter, cheers, and applause. Guests who attended the LGBTQ+ event were awed by the beautiful artwork, and a chance to connect with one another as a community.
The performance featured drag show artists Chaka, Heezey, as well as Sangmin Lee. Each artist had a special flair and connected with the audience in their own special way. Although guests were invited by those who knew the performing artists, curious visitors of the N Seoul Tower who were passing by on their way to the observatory also stopped to watch. From couples to families, those who stopped to watch joined in the cheers and applause to support the performing artists.
Although this performance lasted for just one evening, it is a performance that created history and will always be remembered as a victorious day for the queer community of South Korea.
More About the Artist:
Sangmin Lee, Tang (b.1993 Seoul, S.korea).
Sangmin Lee’s artistic career began after his move to Washington State in the U.S. in 2014. He became close with queer artists, especially Molly Vaughan, who is a trans activist and artist. She furthered Lee’s confidence and affirmed his pride in his sexual identity.
Without the fear he had of retribution as an openly gay artist in South Korea, he was allowed to express himself freely while in the US. He began to create art that would be disregarded by South Korean society. He took ownership over his traumatic experiences as an adolescent in South Korea.
Sangmin Lee, as a gay individual, believes that nothing is more important than the stark representation of reality. He predominantly presents his art as a struggle against objectification, social categorization, and, ultimately – vulnerability and belonging. You can find more of Sangmin Lee’s work by visiting his Instagram page.
To read more about what life is like being a member of the LGBTQ+ community in Korea >>Click Here<< to read more.