The singer is currently serving in the military after enlisting earlier this month to fulfill South Korea’s mandatory military service requirement, but his online presence is stronger than ever. This is due in large part to his willingness to voice support for sexual minorities -- a rare bold move in the K-pop world.
|Jo Kwon. (Jo Kwon‘s Instagram)|
In one of the recent tweets on his rainbow emoji-filled page, which has more than 1.2 million followers, Kwon quoted two Bible verses: “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one” and “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
The post featured a poster for the film “Boy Erased,” about a boy who is forced to take part in a “conversion therapy” program.
One LGBT fan praised Kwon for promoting acceptance in a lengthy direct message that the singer shared on Twitter.
“My views on religion became very negative after seeing Christian groups brand homosexuality as a sin. But reading Jo Kwon’s Instagram posts without prejudice that God loves everyone touched me. Jo Kwon helped me overcome my own negative perception about religious people,” the message read.
i was born this way. don't be a drag just ba a queen/king ?? pic.twitter.com/zorI92u7UB— JO KWON (@2AMkwon) February 10, 2017
“Hi, I’ve only been a fan of yours for a day. I’ve been watching ‘Golden Tambourine’ videos featuring you a few times since a couple of weeks ago. I respect your queer-friendly attitude and your interest in drag is cool, which is why I became a fan,” one message read.
The post showing the private messages was met with a slew of positive replies including a tweet that read, “We don’t deserve you.”
In 2017, Kwon appeared on the cable show “Golden Tambourine,” where he channeled his inner Beyonce by appearing in drag on national TV while lip-syncing the US artist’s song “Crazy in Love.”
But not everyone was a fan of his performance, with one user on web portal Naver writing, “He cross-dressed again?”
In response to the criticism, the singer responded with a tweet: “I was born this way. Don’t be a drag. Just be a queen/king.” His comment was a reference to Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way.”
Jo Kwon is no stranger to controversy over his gender-bending stage performances.
|Jo Kwon wears a pair of studded high heels. (Jo Kwon‘s Instagram)|
In 2012, the singer was in the headlines for performing on TV in 19.5-centimeter heels when he debuted as a solo artist, drawing both support and criticism from fans -- some of whom missed the clean-cut, conservative look he was known for as part of the group 2AM.
Despite many male K-pop idols sporting rather boyish and sometimes androgynous looks, artists who defy K-pop’s narrow beauty standards often become the target of online criticism and even trolling.
A YouTube video of Amber of f(x) mocking netizens’ hateful comments about her androgynous looks went viral in 2017.
In the video, the singer was running around looking for her chest in response to a YouTube comment disparaging her body.
Upon reading another comment, making fun of her short hairdo by asking “How is this young man in a group?” she jokingly responded: “You have to cut your hair so that it covers half of your face.”
|Jo Kwon poses alongside his friend Gina Maeng. (Gina Maeng’s Instagram)|
Jo Kwon is expected to be discharged from the military in March 2020.
By Yim Hyun-su (firstname.lastname@example.org)