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Ruling Highlights Need for Legislative Protections

A court in Seoul, South Korea has rejected a same-sex couple’s bid for spousal health insurance benefits, underscoring the lack of legal protections for same-sex couples in the country. Although South Korea does not recognize same-sex partnerships…
Participants march with a rainbow flag during a gay pride parade in Seoul, South Korea.
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Lee Bo-reum found school almost intolerable. As a young woman, she was outed to her peers as a lesbian, and was ostracized and bullied by her classmates for her sexual orientation. As the mistreatment persisted, she eventually became depressed and…
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Summary Park Beom-seok, a 22-year-old gay man, suspected that he might be gay when he was eleven or twelve years old. Still, he struggled to find support in his school environment. Classmates in middle school used “gay” as a slur, targeting boys who…
News

Former Students Share Their Stories to Press for Change

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in South Korea are bullied and harassed by both students and teachers in schools. When they seek help and support from teachers or counselors, they are often instead “outed” to other teachers or…
G Lee, an LGBT person in South Korea © 2021 Human Rights Watch
News

Isolation and Lack of Support Put Young People at Risk

(Seoul) – Young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in South Korea experience isolation and mistreatment in schools, Human Rights Watch and the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School said in a…
A schoolgirl stands next to a stream
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(Seoul, September 14, 2021) – Young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in South Korea experience isolation and mistreatment in schools, Human Rights Watch and the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale…
News
February 15, 2021 Human Rights Watch Submission to the Ministry of Unification Regarding the Interpretation Guidelines of the Amendments of the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act We are writing in response to your call for comments regarding…
China: Don’t Force 8 Refugees Back to North Korea PHOTO
News

Revise Laws to Recognize Diversity in Families

On January 26, the South Korean government announced it would seek to revise the legal definition of “family” in South Korea, and held a public hearing on the need to recognize the full diversity of families, including single parents and unmarried…
A rainbow flag is carried during a parade as a part of the Seoul Queer Culture Festival in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, July 14, 2018. © 2018 AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
News

Address North Korea Concerns, Plight of Marginalized Groups

(New York, January 13, 2021) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration weakened its criticism of human rights in North Korea in 2020, including by targeting North Korean human rights organizations in the south, Human Rights Watch said…
A banner emphasizing enhanced social distancing is displayed at Seoul City Hall in Seoul, South Korea on November 25, 2020. © 2020 AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
News

Law Would Block South Koreans from Sending Materials North

(New York) – The South Korean National Assembly should reject a proposed law that would criminalize sending leaflets, information, money, and other items to North Korea, Human Rights Watch said today. If enacted, the law would violate South Koreans’…
People watch a news program showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. 
News

Government Should Act to Prevent Discrimination

South Korea is experiencing a marked increase in online threats and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people who are being unfairly accused of spreading Covid-19. The backlash illustrates the need for governments…
A rainbow flag is carried during a parade as a part of the Seoul Queer Culture Festival in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, July 14, 2018. © 2018 AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
News

Lawmakers Should Strengthen Protections, Not Weaken Them

  Conservative lawmakers in South Korea have already blocked the passage of nondiscrimination laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and other minorities. Now, they’re trying to…
Participants march with a rainbow flag during a gay pride parade in Seoul
News

Steps Needed to Protect Sexual and Gender Minority Children

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is urging South Korea to revamp its sexuality education curriculum to cover age-appropriate topics like pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, sexual orientation, and gender identity. These steps…
A rainbow flag is carried during a parade as a part of the Seoul Queer Culture Festival in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, July 14, 2018. © 2018 AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
News

Constitutional Court to Consider Repeal of Anti-Gay Law

(Seoul) – South Korea’s law that bans same-sex conduct for soldiers violates its international human rights obligations and should be repealed, Human Rights Watch said in an amicus brief submitted to the country’s Constitutional Court…
South Korean soldiers at a marine base in Gimpo, South Korea, on June 10, 2016.
News

Amicus Brief to the Honorable Justices of the Constitutional Court of Korea

I. Introduction Human Rights Watch respectfully submits this amicus brief in connection with case 2017Hun-Ga16, now before the Constitutional Court of Korea (“Constitutional Court”), which involves a review of the…
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Press North Korea to Engage With UN Special Rapporteur, Allow Country Visit

(Seoul) – South Korea should raise the dire human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) during the April 27 summit between South Korean president Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Human Rights…
South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony celebrating the 99th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule, at Seodaemun Prison History Hall in Seoul, South Korea, March 1, 2018. REUTERS
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Over 200 NGOs Call for Rights to Be Prioritized

(Seoul) – South Korea should press for human rights issues to be included in all discussions with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), including in the agenda of the summit between South Korean president Moon Jae-in and…
Head of the North Korean delegation, Ri Son Gwon talks with South Korean counterpart Cho Myoung-gyon during their meeting at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, January 9, 2018.
News

Judgment Orders Government to Allow LGBT Foundation to Apply for Charity Status

(New York, August 4, 2017) – South Korea’s Supreme Court has ordered the government to allow a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights foundation to legally register as a charity, ending three years of the foundation’s leaders facing…
Participants march on a street during Korea Queer Festival 2015 in central Seoul, South Korea. In 2017, South korea's Supreme Court ordered the government to allow the Beyond the Rainbow Foundation, a LGBT rights foundation, to legally register as a chari