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Samsung and Google censor LGBT apps in South Korea

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Samsung is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, in the hub of an exceedingly connected country: South Korea boasts the fastest internet connection speed in the world and is second globally in smartphone penetration. It's in this environment that both Samsung and Google have banned popular gay social networking apps from their online stores, Buzzfeed News reports. Samsung rejected the gay hookup app Hornet from its South Korean store in 2013, citing local values and laws that disallow LGBT content. Hornet is available in the US and other countries, though it remains banned in Argentina, Iceland, Syria and South Korea, the report says. Samsung confirmed to the site that it blocks LGBT apps on a country-by-country basis, though it's notable that Argentina and Iceland both legalized same-sex marriage in 2010.

Many Android smartphone users get their apps from Google Play as opposed to Samsung's own store, and Hornet, Grindr and other LGBT networking apps are on there, even in South Korea. One popular gay dating app, Jack'd, is not available on Google Play in South Korea -- the company deleted Jack'd from its store a few years ago, seemingly without notifying its developer, Buzzfeed reports. Still, Jack'd has more than 500,000 users in South Korea, most of them on Android, the app's lead account manager for Asia told the site. Where there's a will, there's a way to bypass a smarthphone's region settings via VPN.

Censorship in South Korea seems to stem from the top: The country's new justice minister, Kim Hyun-woong, recently called for restrictions against a pride march that has been held for the past 16 years. "It does not go by our society's traditional values or norms, therefore I believe there should be restrictions against it," he said during his confirmation hearings, according to Buzzfeed. The pride march went ahead in June, though it faced fierce opposition and protests from Christian groups in the country.

[Image credit: Samsung]

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