The rise of LGBTQ+ characters in K-dramas is a sure sign that Korea is becoming more open, inclusive and accepting of the queer community. Although Korean dramas are a worldwide success, creating compelling characters and emotional storylines that resonate to a global audience, its representation is far from perfect. Gender inequality and stereotypes are rife and LGBTQ+ characters and lives are under-represented in Korean media. These flaws stem from the fact that Korean society is comparatively conservative. According to “Society at Glance 2019: A Spotlight on LGBT People”, a study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Korea lags behind progressive countries which are more supportive and accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. However, things are only likely to improve as South Korea becomes more open, and K-dramas have a pivotal role to play in shaping values and changing the conversation. Below are seven dramas that feature LGBTQ+characters. STYLE LGBTQ+ Series: Queer voices Itaewon Class Park Seo-joon plays Saeroyi, a high school dropout and ex-convict who opens a restaurant in Itaewon. His goal is to turn his business into a big company in the hopes of defeating his arch nemesis, Jangga CEO Jang Dae-hee. View this post on Instagram A post shared by 이주영 (@i_icaruswalks) on Feb 21, 2020 at 2:44am PST One of the misfits who helps Saeroyi is a transgender woman named Ma Hyun-yi. As the series progresses, she becomes a seasoned chef and more comfortable with her gender identity. How K-drama hit Itaewon Class challenges discrimination The Boy Next Door This mini K-drama series may be guilty of queerbaiting, but it still at least sheds light on the normalcy of bromance. It tells the story of two college students, Park Kyu-tae (Choi Woo-shik) and Sung Ji-kae (Jang Ki-yong), who are forced to live under one roof. After hilarious and awkward encounters, Kim Min-ah, their mutual friend, comes to a conclusion that both of them are gay. Schoolgirl Detectives This series – more literally translated as Seonam Girls’ High School Investigators – made a major breakthrough by featuring the first on-screen lesbian kiss on mainstream Korean television, much to the shock of conservative viewers. It follows five female students who form a detective club to solve sensitive issues in their school such as bullying, abortion and suicide. Hi Bye, Mama!: why are K-drama fans freaking out about a boy playing a girl? Coffee Prince Gong Yoo plays Choi Han-kyul, the scion and heir of a coffee company. He only hires men for the coffee shop to attract female customers. View this post on Instagram A post shared by 셀리나(serina) (@gongyoo710_japanesefan) on Mar 27, 2020 at 5:23am PDT This is how he meets Go Eun-chan, a 24-year-old tomboy who is mistaken as a guy. Han-kyul enlists him to pretend to be his gay lover to avoid blind dates arranged by his grandmother. Is China changing its views toward the LGBT community? Reply 1997 Reply 1997 revolves around a group of friends reminiscing about their teenage years and high school days. Hoya, formerly of K-pop group Infinite, plays Kang Joon-hee, a gay man who fell in love with his best friend. Homosexuality is a non-issue and treated with much respect, and his friends fully support his identity. Life is Beautiful Life is Beautiful portrays the personal and social conflicts of a multi-generational family, as well as the struggles of a homosexual relationship. The couple’s storyline, played by Kim Kyung-soo and Yang Tae-sub, touches on coming out and family acceptance. Older woman, younger man – K-drama’s best ‘noona romances’ Love with Flaws The late Cha In-ha portrayed a bartender working in a gay bar in this series. Although he played a secondary character, much emphasis was given to his role. View this post on Instagram A post shared by KOCOWA OFFICIAL (@kocowa.official) on Jan 3, 2020 at 1:11am PST The story looks into Joo Won-suk’s story of coming out and eventually finding acceptance in his family, as well as pursuing a love interest with a closeted gay man. If you are having suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, help is available. For Hong Kong, dial +852 2896 0000 for The Samaritans or +852 2382 0000 for Suicide Prevention Services. In the US, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on +1 800 273 8255. For a list of other nations’ helplines, see this page . Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .