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South Korea – SOGI Legislation Country Report (2013)


Neither male nor female same-sex activity is criminalized in South Korea.

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited in the areas of employment, education, and supply of good services, transportation and residence (National Human Rights Commission Act, 2001).

Article 92 of the Military Penal Code defines sexual activity between members of the same sex as “sexual harassment” punishable by a maximum of one year of imprisonment. In 2008 Hun-Ga21 (Military Penal Code Article 92 (March 31, 2011), the Constitutional Court upheld Article 92, finding that it did not amount to discrimination on the basis of sex and was therefore not prohibited by the Constitution.

The age of consent (19) for same-sex and opposite-sex sexual activity is the same (Act on the Protection of Children and Juveniles from Sexual Abuse, 2011).

Individuals are able to change their sex marker/gender on official documents, subject to restrictions including the requirement of sex reassignment surgery, as was ruled in Supreme Court Full Panel Order 2004Seu42, 2004.

The National Human Rights Commission has made formal recommendations that the Supreme Court no longer require sex reassignment surgery to change sex/gender on legal documents, that the court no longer require that ‘applicant will live a satisfactory life as a member of the opposite sex’, and that the court create exceptions to age restrictions, and restrictions on people who are already married or have children in Investigations and Remedies for Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation, 2008.

link to full text in PDF: South Korea-SOGI Legislation Country Report-2013-eng