With the support of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung South East Asia, Queer Forever! and Manzi Art Space organised a program of talks by Nguyen Tan Hoang and Dredge Byung’chu Käng about Viet Kieu (=overseas Vietnamese) intimacy and K-POP cover dance on 9th June 2014. After a short initial speech of Nadja Charaby (head of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung South East Asia), Nguyen Tan Hoang started by analysing the Vietnamese romantic comedy De Mai Tinh (Fool for Love) (2010). Hoang is a video artist and academic whose work examines forms of desire in queer Asian male identities, Vietnamese diasporic cultural production, and Southeast Asian cinemas. His central point was how intimacy was shown by the two main Viet Kieu characters Mai, a young Vietnamese German aspiring singer-songwriter and Hoi, a gay Vietnamese American entrepreneur. Hoàng named the difficult relationship between Viet Kieu and local Vietnamese “Viet Kieu intimacy.” With their different traditions and biographies the Viet Kieu represent global capitalism, cosmopolitanism and transnational mobility. And with their non-normative gender and sexual expressions as shown in the film they represent a new kind of intimacy. This intimacy describes new forms of relations (beyond the norm) and reformation of categories like public/ private and far away/ close and this also reflect to the whole society.
In the second half Dredge Byung’chu Käng (MA, PhD candidate in anthropology and global epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta, USA) talked about K-pop cover dance – the copying of choreographed movements in K-pop music videos. These dances are shown in internet videos, in public spaces like (gay) bars or even in big shopping malls. There are also big cover dance-contests for K-pop groups. Thai cover dance groups such as the Wonder Gay have achieved national fame. Dredge described how cover dance constitutes a new social arena for feminine Thai males to express themselves through the idiom of modern Korean female embodiment. This opens up new possibilities for imagining and enacting new Thai subjectivities. They see themselves as modern, developed, Queer and Asian.
After this two speeches the approximately 50 guests had a long and intense debate about the topics and the possibility to “cross borders” with queer and feminist politics as Nadja Charaby mentioned in her initial speech.