S. Korea TV pulls transgender show after protests

SEOUL - A South Korean TV channel on Thursday said it had pulled the plug on a newly-launched talk show aimed at the transgender community, following strong objections from viewers.

KBS Joy, an entertainment subsidiary of the national KBS TV, said on its website that it had reached the decision after "taking viewers' opinions into account".

The midnight programme, titled "XY That Girl", was only launched last week, but the first airing sparked uproar from conservative groups, who staged protests outside the broadcaster and took out newspaper ads denouncing the show.

The programme invited transgendered individuals to appear in person or phone in to discuss their experiences living in the transgender community.

Gay and transgender Koreans remain largely under the radar in a country that remains deeply conservative about matters of sexual identity and where many still regard homosexuality as a foreign phenomenon.

Various teacher and parent groups bought a newspaper ad in which they attacked KBS Joy for "fanning" gay sexuality and warned that "children will blindly follow in the steps of transgenders".

They also flooded the broadcaster's website with angry postings.

One of the presenters of the short-lived "XY That Girl" was Hong Suk-Chon, a comedian and actor who is one of the very few Korean celebrities to live as an openly gay man.

When he first came out more than 10 years ago, there was a swift public backlash and he was released from all his contracts and spent a number of years in the professional wilderness.

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