Reality check: How diverse is Korea really? LGBTQ+ and politics (4)

No openly queer candidates have ever been elected to South Korea's parliament.

Shin Ji-hye

Shin Ji-hye

The Korea Herald


Illustration by THE KOREA HERALD

January 26, 2024

SEOUL – South Korea defaults to heterosexuality as the predominant sexual identity publicly represented by political leaders.

Among national politicians and elected parliamentarians, there have not been any public disclosures of a politician’s sexual orientation throughout Korea’s entire legislative history. This lack of openly acknowledged LGBTQ+ representation in the country’s top political leadership underscores the degree of exclusion and discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in the country and mainstream news media.

However, a notable exception is Cha Hae-young, a 37-year-old municipal councilor who identifies as bisexual and is a dedicated advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. Cha was elected as one of the council members of Seoul’s Mapo district in June of last year, becoming South Korea’s first openly LGBTQ+ elected official.

Although no lawmakers from major parties openly discuss LGBTQ+ rights, members of the progressive opposition Justice Party have been more vocal on the issue, frequently acting as representative voices for sexual minority groups in Korea.

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