First gay marriage in Korea stirs controversy

First gay marriage in Korea stirs controversy

SEOUL - The first gay marriage in Korea on Saturday sharply divided the country, putting to the test its legal system and public tolerance of sexual minorities.

Film director Kim-Jho Gwang-soo and film distributor Kim Seung-hwan held a symbolic wedding in central Seoul. They have been partners for nine years.

The two men made their vows in front of guests reported to number about 1,000, including Kim-Jho's mother, movie director Byun Young-joo and civil activist Paik Ki-wan.

Their marriage, however, will not be formally recognised here, as Korea has not legalized same-sex marriage.

But Kim-Jho, 48, an openly gay activist, and his 29-year-old partner announced that they are now a married couple regardless of the law.

"It is important whether or not we become a legally bound couple. But more importantly, we want to let people know that gays can marry too in our society," Kim-Jho told reporters before the ceremony.

The newlyweds will seek legal approval for their marriage. They said they would consider filing a petition with the Constitutional Court if the government refuses to legally recognise their marriage.

Gay rights activists and some lawmakers have backed their decision, vowing to join the legal fight.

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