According to a survey conducted on 1,004 adults by Gallup Korea, 34 percent of the respondents supported same-sex marriages, while 58 percent of them opposed it. Some 8 percent reserved their answers.
The findings showed a huge generational gap on the issue: The older they were the more likely they were to hold a negative view.
A majority of 20-something people, or 66 percent, were in favor of legalizing the same-sex union, while 52 percent of those in their 30s opposed it. The percentage of people holding a negative view stood at 54 percent for the 40-49 age group, 70 percent for the 50-59 group and 76 percent among those over 60.
The proportion of Koreans in favor of same-sex marriage stood at 35 percent in 2014 and 17 percent in 2001, the pollster said.
Nearly 6 in 10 people (56 percent) responded that homosexuality was a type of love, while 35 percent disagreed.
Some 28 percent said that sexual minorities were born that way, while 49 percent said that their sexual identities were affected by their upbringing or social environment.
A majority of Koreans, whether or not they were positive toward homosexuality, advocated equal opportunities for sexual minorities.
Ninety percent of those surveyed said sexual minorities should be given the same job opportunities and 81 percent said dismissal due to sexual orientation is wrong.
The poll, conducted between May 30 and June 1, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
While homosexuality is not banned in South Korea, LGBT people -- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender -- live largely on the fringes of society, as the majority of Koreans remain either indifferent to or intolerant of homosexuality.
President Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer, also said that he is against the legalization of same-sex marriage on the presidential election campaign trail, though he also said he opposed any kind of discrimination against sexual minorities.
Last month, the military court sentenced a gay soldier to six months in jail, suspended for a year, for having consensual sex with a same-sex soldier in a private place, on charges of violating the Military Criminal Act.
The act outlaws sodomy or other “disgraceful acts” in the armed forces, regardless of whether there was mutual consent, and carries a jail term of up to two years.
By Ock Hyun-ju (email@example.com)