Monday, July 4, 2011

Shinchon Park

Hyundai Department Store (Shinchon)
Shinchon Park ("Lesbian Park")

Location: Shinchon Seoul, Korea

Opened/Closed: Early 2000s to perhaps 2009? Or still existing?

It is not unusual for public parks to be associated with heterosexual couples, sex workers, and/or crusing gay men--typically deep into the twilight hours. But I had never seen a public park associated with lesbians before.  And on Sunday afternoons no less.

The report at girlports--hidden among the usual lists of local bars and organizations--certainly caught my eye in a hurry:

Lesbian Park (Shinchon Park)

If you’re looking for lesbians during the daytime, you might want to check out the so-called “Lesbian Park” on Sunday afternoons (it’s also known as Shinchon Park). This is where some baby dykes will go to hang out, but for most local lesbians the park is either a love it or hate it kind of place.

It’s in Shinchon, just behind the Hyundai department store (yes, in Korea they don’t just sell cars but just about everything) across from the entrance to the car park.
Wow. Was this a fluke? Or was this for real? Apparently for real, as a similar report surfaced at under lesbian resources:

"Lesbian Park"
    Shinchon, behind Hyundai department store across from the entrance to its car park. Yes, the rather severely paved triangular park, on one side of which is located Seoul's Erotic Art Museum and Gallery. Lesbians flock here on Sun afternoons.
                                                              So when did this place start functioning as a lesbian space? Did it still exist? Geographically speaking, it couldn't be too old, as the Hyundai Department Store opened in July 1998 and the Erotic Art Museum in May 2003.
                                                              Most of the references to Shinchon Park I have found that have a date attached are from 2008. Like this one from November 2008:
                                                              The concrete park in Shinchon behind Hyundai Dept store is supposed a lesbian hangout and there's a bar somewhere around there called Lesbos. An ex-coworker of mine told me that, so that's all the info I can pass on.
                                                              I've spent many an evening there. there's a ton of girls walking around holding hands (not uncommon with straight girls here) and with their arms around in each other in a "proprietary" way (which I haven't seen much of). That said, they all look like they're in high school.
                                                              In June 2010, a Korean researcher reported that she had used Shinchon Park to locate and interview runaway bisexual and lesbian teenage girls: "Teenage 'Ivans' gather there every Sunday afternoon, in large numbers, I must say, creating a sort of ghetto culture." But it wasn't clear when she had encountered these girls at the weekly "cafes" they had established in the park.

                                                               Another October 2008 article refers to Shinchon Park as a lesbian place that had existed as such for "many years," but without specifying for how long:
                                                              This reporter followed the women to Sinchon Park next to the Hyundai Department Store. Since long ago Sinchon Park has been a base of operations for lesbians. It has been a natural meeting place for them for many years. I arrived there and took a look around. Friends meeting, people sitting and listening to music by themselves, and friends in conversation, all were having a fun time around me.
                                                              Not all these women were kids either. Some were in their 20s and early 30s.
                                                              I don't see any media accounts dated any later than 2008. So I'm inclined to think that the space finally faded in significance. Though I could be wrong!

                                                              1 comment:

                                                              1. I was hanging out in this park yesterday (a Sunday) and noticed a large amount of high school girls that seemed like more than just friendly hand holding~ So I googled lesbians in sinchon? and I arrived here! So they are still there!


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