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Korean Air recognizes lesbian couple as ‘family’

A Korean Air B787-9 passenger jet (Yonhap) Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

SEOUL, Dec 13, 2019, The Korea Times. The country’s flagship carrier Korean Air allowed a Korean lesbian couple to be registered as a “family” for its SKYPASS mileage program. While the Korean law does not recognize same-sex marriage, the registration was possible as the couple obtained a marriage certificate from abroad.

According to the airline, Thursday, it registered a Korean lesbian married couple in their 40s for the SKYPASS family plan, Monday, a day ahead of World Human Rights Day.

The family program allows up to five family members to accumulate and combine points which can be used to purchase flight tickets for their family members. According to the carrier’s rules on SKYPASS, the family members can include a customer’s spouse, children, siblings, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law.

For registration, the customer is required to submit documents to prove the family relationship. The documents include a copy of residence registration, family certificate and other government-issued documents showing the date of birth.

In Korea, same-sex marriage is not recognized, so same-sex couples have been unable to register as family for mileage programs.

But it was possible for the lesbian couple as they obtained a marriage certificate from Canada.

The couple wrote on their blog that they got married in Ontario, Canada, in May 2013, and lived in Korea before receiving U.S. permanent residency in 2018. They are currently residing in California.

“We submitted our marriage certificate issued in Canada in 2013 and a tax document jointly filed as a couple in the U.S. in 2018,” the posting said.

The couple received an email from Korean Air asking for additional identification documents that state their date of birth.

“We did not want to submit our Korean IDs, which would show both of us are women. So we submitted a copy of our driver’s licenses issued in California this year,” they said. “We did not expect to get approved because same-sex marriage is not recognized in Korea, but we received notification a day after that the family registration process was completed.”

Korean Air said it does not have any rules to deal with customers differently according to their sex.

“We have been approving once applicants show documents proving their family relations issued from their respective countries,” a Korean Air official said.

Earlier in 2017, film director Kim Jho Gwang-soo, who had a same-sex wedding here in 2013, said in a talk event that he asked Asiana Airlines to allow him to share his mileage with his male spouse, but the carrier said it was impossible according to regulation as the couple did not have a document proving their “family relationship.”

In Kim’s case, Asiana said a same-sex couple can be registered as family if the couple submits a relevant document issued by their states.

By Kim Hyun-bin

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