A lesbian couple in South Korea welcomed their first child this week, marking a significant milestone for the LGBTQ+ community in the country.
About the couple: Kim Kyu-jin and Kim Sae-yeon held their wedding in Seoul in 2019 and registered their marriage in New York City after city authorities declined to register her marriage.
On Aug. 30, Kyu-jin became the first openly gay Korean woman to give birth when the couple welcomed their daughter, Rani, a week earlier than scheduled. Since South Korea does not recognize same-sex unions, Kim Sae-yeon has no legal parental rights to their child.
Against all odds: While South Korea has invested heavily in pro-natal policies to address its declining birth rates, these efforts often exclude unmarried and same-sex couples. The couple faced legal and social challenges just to pursue their journey to parenthood. As sperm banks in South Korea are only accessible to heterosexual married couples, the couple had to seek IVF treatment in Belgium.
Hoping for a more inclusive South Korea: As she anticipates her child’s entry into elementary school, Kyu-jin hopes to pave the way for a more understanding and open-minded South Korea. The couple have been actively advocating for a more inclusive society and legal recognition of LGBTQ+ rights in the country.
“Korea is such a fast-changing country,” Kyu-jin told the Korea Herald. “Just as my father told me, this will become something that is not so unusual to people by then. He said that 30 years ago, people the with same last name couldn’t get married.”