How to Access LGBT Websites in South Korea

Last Updated by Gray Williams on October 23, 2018

Identifying yourself as Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) in South Korea can put you under legal and discriminatory stress. There are no same-sex marriages or the ability to adopt children for same-sex couples. Different jurisdictions throughout the country have the right to not hire employees or provide services to people based on their sexuality. From 2001-2003, the country’s Information and Communications Ethics Committee censored any website with gay content.

This type of censorship is unfortunately normal in the Asian world, where same-sex activity is illegal in 20 countries, with seven – including Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Afghanistan – using the death penalty.

South Korea’s Censorship

Beginning in 2008, the South Korean government began to block Internet sites that it deemed ‘indecent” including those focused on gambling, unrated games, and pornography and nudity.It also blocks websites that it finds to be filled with “profanity.”

In 2009, the country modified its own copyright law to introduce a “three-strikes policy” under which  citizens illegally sharing files would have their Internet disconnected on the third violation. However, data shows that tens of thousands of citizens have had the biggest punishment handed to them after the first strike.

Because the censorship is not perfect, many LGBT websites end up being blocked in South Korea because the terminology there falls under the same criteria as the censorship of nudity, profanity or pornography.

With discrimination still prevalent and awareness stil in its infancy, very few South Koreans or visitors to the country, see the merit in complaining to the government about certain LGBT websites being blocked.

However, if you are in South Korea and do want to access blocked LGBT websites, there are ways around the censorship. Here are a few to consider.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

Using a VPN is the safest and most effective way to get around South Korea’s LGBT censorship. A VPN gives you the two most important factors in evading censorship and avoiding getting in trouble for doing so: anonymity and security.

There are lots of different brands of VPNs – some paid for and some free – but the best ones make their customers happy by ensuring that their online activities are almost impossible to track. VPNs use a high level of encryption to create a “tunnel” between your computer and a remote server in another country outside of the jurisdiction of the country practicing censorship. This tunnel allows your computer to send requests for access to websites to the remote server without your ISP provider being able to see what you are sending. When the information reaches the remote server, it is decrypted. The server then assigns your information an IP address from its own country and reroutes it to the Internet. When your requests are filled and information is sent back to your computer, it travels the same route, but in reverse. It moves to the remote server, where it is encrypted and sent back along the “tunnel” to your computer. The tunnel blocks the ISP from seeing what you are downloading. When it reaches your computer, it is decrypted and you are viewing those restricted sites worry-free.

To ensure even more security, the high-end VPNs offer a no-logs feature, which means they don’t keep track of where you go on the Internet. So even if you were questioned by authorities on using a VPN to access censored sites, the VPN you used would have no record of your site visits. Another great quality to look for is a kill switch. If the VPN connection ever fails, even for a second, your Internet connection is severed. This keeps your ISP from seeing who you are when it realizes you are accessing censored websites from South Korea. If speed is a major concern for you, than ExpressVPN might be the right pick. Its speeds are routinely listed as near the top of the chart in comparisons among top-tier VPNs. SaferVPN is one of the companies that is specific in its no-logs and kill-switch technology. Based out of Israel, it has lots of protection against outside harassment from other countries. There’s also NordVPN, which stresses security with its AES 256-bit encryption that’s on par with military-grade use.

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Proxies

Using a proxy to avoid censorship is less expensive than using a VPN, but has a lot more security risks as well. Proxies largely operate the same way as VPNs: Your computer connects to a remote server in another country and sends information to and from the Internet through that midway point. The downside of proxies is that they are not encrypted. This means that your ISP can view all the requests that you are sending to the Internet and all the information you are downloading. If you are suspected of using a proxy to workaround a country’s censorship, the ISP will be able to clearly track your online movements.

Gray Williams
Gray Williams is an experienced data and communications engineer and cross-platform copy and content writer and editor with a keen interest in cybersecurity. He has been working with and researching, VPNs and other online privacy tools for many years.