Meet Jo Kwon, the Boy Band Member Shocking South Korea With Gender-Bending Performances
But the headlines Jo Kwon's been making throughout the past few months aren't just because of his live singing skills, charismatic personality or his dancing abilities: it's because he's repeatedly hit the stage dressed as a woman.
Back in December, Jo Kwon showed up to the stage in a blonde wig and heels for a performance of SISTAR's massively popular "Touch My Body" as the open-mouthed audience watched and cheered in disbelief.
The next week, he dressed in knee-high stockings to perform K-pop star Gain's "Bloom" — who even joined him midway through wearing a nearly identical ensemble. A month later, Jo Kwon was whipping a fan around while crooning Lee Jung Hyun's "Wa" and swinging from the "Chandelier" with a performance dressed as bewigged belter Sia.
In early February, he kept audiences shocked by strutting in fiercely to the stage wearing a pair of stilettos before launching into a spectacular, shimmering performance of Beyoncé's "Crazy In Love."
As seen in all of his performance videos, the crowd goes crazy for Jo Kwon each and every week.
Unsurprisingly however, the entertainer has caught a fair share of backlash and hate from the Internet in the past few months — which he finally addressed on his social media, clarifying that he isn't a drag queen, but rather a performer.
"As a person who respects many people in the world, I work my best to prepare a performance that has various meanings. Through diverse performances, which can be cross-dressing, powerful dance, etc., I show Jo Kwon, not just Kkap Kwon. You guys probably understand the meaning of the statement I made in English, saying that I'm not a drag queen. I think I still lack to be an artistic drag queen. Furthermore, my job is to be a singer, not a drag queen," he wrote on Twitter, adding in English: "i was born this way. don't be a drag just ba a queen/king 👑"
That Lady Gaga quote turned out to be rather prophetic, because this week, Jo Kwon hit the stage during the show's final episode for an equally jaw-dropping performance of Lady Gaga's self-empowerment anthem, "Born This Way" — during which he snatched his own Lady Gaga-inspired wig from his head in a moment of defiance.
“The reason I took off the wig was because I wanted to show people that this is who I, Jo Kwon, am," he explained, via Soompi. And while Jo Kwon narrowly lost by one point during the battle, the inspiring message of individuality was served up loud and clear on stage.
While the flamboyant boybander's sexuality has been heavily debated for years, the performer's never blatantly come out. Homosexuality is also still considered somewhat of a taboo in South Korea, considering the first public same-sex marriage didn't even occur until 2013. (Same-sex couples are still not legally recognized.)
Much like in the West however, mainstream media representation is continuing to increase LGBTQ visibility. Regardless of whatever his sexuality is, Jo Kwon's gender-bending weekly spectacles on Golden Tambourine likely aided in opening up some minds across the country — and provided a pretty damn entertaining show.
Inspiring Stars Who Have Come Out: