Photo: Sungmin Cho/Shutterstock

8 Uncomfortable Truths About Being Gay in South Korea

South Korea Student Work Couples
by Meg Cale Mar 18, 2015

1. 59% of South Koreans believe that gayness should not be accepted by society.

According to a study conducted by Pew Research, South Korea is one of the least accepting of the world’s richest countries.

2. There are no employment protects.

South Korea doesn’t have an anti-discrimination law for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

3. There is no legal recognition of same-sex couples.

We aren’t even talking marriage equality here. There are no civil unions, no tax benefits. Nothing.

4. 77% of Korean LGBT teenagers have contemplated suicide and 54% have attempted to take their own lives.

According to government-sponsored organization, The Korean Health Promotion Foundation, Korea has one of the highest rates of suicide completion of any developed nation in the world at 23.8 people in every 100,000. To put that number in perspective that’s more than double the rate of the US at 10.1 people per 100,000.

5. Two of the handful of LGBT celebrities in Korea have died by suicide.

Gay actor Kim Ji-who and trans actress Jang Chae-won both died the same week in 2008. Both of their deaths have been widely blamed on the homophobic bullying they received professionally.

6. LGBT parents have very few legal options.

They have no access to IVF or commercial surrogacy, nor do LGBT people have access to adoption. LGBT step-parents cannot even adopt their step children.

7. Leading a double life is common.

Many members of the South Korean LGBT community are acting as straight parents, husbands or wives, and heterosexual co-workers, but in their private time they are true to themselves. Hiding ones sexual orientation in South Korea is the norm. The Korea Observer covered this topic in depth.

8. Reparative therapy is still very common.

Despite being denounced by every major mental health organization in the world.

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