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Can I marry my cousin in Korea?


In many cultures, marrying a cousin is considered taboo due to the potential genetic risks associated with consanguineous marriages. However, in some parts of the world, marrying a first cousin is legal and socially acceptable. In this article, we will explore whether you can marry your cousin in Korea.

History of Cousin Marriage in Korea

Cousin marriage has a long history in Korea, dating back to ancient times. It was traditionally practiced among the aristocracy to maintain family wealth and status, but it was also common among commoners. However, with the introduction of Western-style family laws in the late 19th century, cousin marriage became stigmatized and eventually prohibited.

Current Legal Status of Cousin Marriage in Korea

In Korea, cousin marriage is legal but subject to certain restrictions. According to the Korean Civil Code, marriage between relatives up to the third degree of consanguinity is prohibited. This includes first cousins, but not second cousins or more distant relatives. However, there are exceptions for cases in which the couple is unable to bear children or suffers from a hereditary disease.

Public Opinion on Cousin Marriage in Korea

Despite being legal, cousin marriage remains controversial in Korea. According to a survey conducted by the Korean Institute for Health and Social Affairs in 2013, 53% of respondents opposed cousin marriage, while 38% supported it.

Genetic Risks of Cousin Marriage

One of the main arguments against cousin marriage is the increased risk of genetic abnormalities in offspring. When two people who are closely related have children together, there is a higher chance that their offspring will inherit harmful recessive genes that could lead to birth defects or developmental disorders.

Preventing Genetic Risks in Cousin Marriage

However, modern medical technology can help mitigate the risks associated with cousin marriage. Genetic testing can identify potential genetic disorders and offer options for reducing the risk of passing them on to offspring.

International Perspectives on Cousin Marriage

Cousin marriage is not unique to Korea and is practiced in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, South Asia, and parts of Africa. However, attitudes towards cousin marriage vary widely across cultures and countries.

Cultural Significance of Cousin Marriage in Korea

In addition to its historical significance, cousin marriage also has cultural significance in Korea. It is viewed as a way to strengthen family ties and maintain family unity. In some cases, it is also seen as a way to preserve traditional values and customs.

Controversies Surrounding Cousin Marriage in Korea

Despite its cultural and historical significance, cousin marriage remains controversial in Korea due to concerns about genetic risks and social stigma. Some argue that it reinforces social inequality and perpetuates hereditary diseases.

Alternatives to Cousin Marriage in Korea

For those who wish to avoid the risks of cousin marriage, there are alternative options available. Adoption, surrogacy, and in vitro fertilization are all viable alternatives for couples who cannot conceive naturally or who wish to avoid passing on hereditary diseases.


In conclusion, cousin marriage is legal but restricted in Korea. Despite its historical and cultural significance, it remains controversial due to concerns about genetic risks and social stigma. However, modern medical technology can mitigate some of these risks, and alternative options are available for those who wish to avoid them.



Do Koreans marry relatives?

In 1957, a rule about marriage was created and became known as Article 809. The rule stated that individuals with common surnames and ancestral homes could not marry if they were blood relatives.

Which countries allow cousins to marry?

Consanguineous marriage, which is the act of getting married to a second cousin or a closer relative, is permitted and commonly promoted in the Middle East and other Muslim nations including Pakistan. About 45% of married couples were related in the Arab world as of 2003.

What are the rules for marriage in Korea?

In South Korea, only opposite-sex marriages are currently recognized, while same-sex marriages are not allowed. Individuals over the age of 18 (males) and 16 (females) may get married with the permission of their parents or guardians.

Is it OK if I marry my cousin?

The laws regarding marriage between first cousins differ greatly across the United States. In 24 states, it is considered illegal, while in 19 states, it is allowed. Seven states have restrictions on first-cousin marriage.

Is it OK to date your cousin in Korea?

Certain places have laws against marrying one’s cousin, such as mainland China, Taiwan, North and South Korea, the Philippines, and 24 states in the United States. These laws specify the level of relatedness that is not allowed in sexual or marital relationships.

Can Kim marry Kim in Korea?

For a long time, it was prohibited by law for people with the same surname and paternal background to get married. However, in 1997, South Korea’s Constitutional Court deemed this law unconstitutional and in 2005, the civil code was modified to only prohibit marriage between closely related individuals.

While cousin marriage remains legal in Korea, it is becoming less common over time. In recent decades, there has been a decline in the prevalence of cousin marriage due to changing cultural attitudes and increased access to education and public health resources. As younger generations become more aware of the risks associated with consanguineous relationships, they are increasingly choosing to marry outside of their families.

Despite this trend, cousin marriage persists in some regions and among certain communities in Korea. In rural areas, where traditional values and customs are still prevalent, cousin marriage may be more common. Additionally, some families may still prioritize maintaining family ties and status over concerns about genetic risks.

It is also worth noting that cousin marriage is not unique to Korea and has been practiced throughout history in many parts of the world. However, attitudes towards it have varied widely across different cultures and time periods. While it may have been socially acceptable or even encouraged in some societies, it has also been stigmatized and prohibited in others.

In the end, the decision to marry a cousin is a personal one that should be made after careful consideration of all the potential risks and consequences. While modern medical technology can help mitigate some of the genetic risks associated with cousin marriage, it is still important for individuals to weigh all the factors involved before making such a significant decision.

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