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South Korea university elects openly gay student president

Kim Bo-mi's victory comes at a time when gay rights are becoming a more prominent issue in the country.

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea university elects openly gay student president
South Korea’s top university elected its first openly gay student body president. Young South Koreans are increasingly open-minded about the rights of sexual minorities. Photo by Natasha Kramskaya/Shutterstock

SEOUL, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- South Korea's top university elected its first openly gay student body president after the candidate ran on a platform of tolerance on campus.

Kim Bo-mi, 23, identifies herself as a lesbian, and won 86.8 percent of the vote, the Korea Herald reported Friday. More than 50 percent of the student body voted in the campus-wide election at Seoul National University, and 11 percent voted against Kim while others abstained.

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Kim, who is majoring in consumer and child studies at the university, told South Korean outlet News 1 that she decided to come out because she believed she wasn't alone.

"I thought that at least on campus students should be free to be as they are," she said. "I also thought coming out proudly would be a source of great strength and support for others."

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Asked about her parents' reactions to her announcement, Kim would say on that they are coming around.

Kim's victory comes at a time when gay rights are becoming a more prominent issue in the country.

In April, a South Korean poll showed young South Korean respondents are increasingly open-minded about the rights of sexual minorities, and their favorable attitudes toward the LGBT community have doubled from 2010 to 2014.

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Of those in their 20s, 47.4 percent polled said they were open-minded about homosexuality, a near-doubling, in percentage terms, from the 26.7 percent who responded similarly in 2010.

Older South Koreans, however, said they are less tolerant of gay rights, with 13.8 percent of those in their 50s and 7.1 percent of people in their 60s signaling acceptance, according to the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

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