Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is Divorce in Korea finally Socially Acceptable?

Update:  The show went well... apologies to James from The Grand Narrative, who was supposed to be on the show, but who we missed because of a miscommunication.  Fortunately for you, readers, he's written some of what he would have said, over on his blog.  Awesome.  I hope I'll have a chance to invite you on the show later, James.
Also, thanks to Jennifer, facebook pals Hyunsoo, Sun Heo, and twitter pals @aaronnamba @Ben_Kwon and @TWolfejr, Wet Casements and 3Gyupsal, and everybody who listens, calls, or comments.

In my first year in Korea, I met a woman, the mother of one of my students, who lied to her family for two years, rather than admit that she had divorced her abusive husband.

Today, Yonhap News reports the launching of a magazine specifically targeted at divorcees.

So the question we're discussing tonight on "Argue with Roboseyo" or "The Bigger Picture" at TBS eFM radio is whether the launch of this magazine is an indication that divorce has finally become socially acceptable in Korea.

What do you think?  Write your thoughts in the comments, and I'll try to read them on air during the segment, from 7:40-7:55 tonight on 101.3 TBS eFM's evening show.  Or phone in at 02-778-1013.


1. What are the gender issues and social issues at play?  In Choseon Korea, men could have concubines, and women had very few rights.  The danger of destitution and discrimination were the main disincentives for divorce in the past.  What about now?  Have women's rights improved enough that divorce no longer guarantees poverty?

2. Is it a sign of social progress, if women feel independent and liberated enough to get a divorce, rather than feeling trapped in a bad marriage?

3. Is this a sign that Korea's vaunted "family values" are disintegrating?  Maybe people just don't care as much as they used to about bringing shame on their family?

4. Other than family pressures, what were the obstacles to getting a divorce in the past?

Put your comments below, and if you have a strong opinion, or if you have experience with divorce in Korea, let drop me a line at roboseyo at gmail: the show's always looking for callers.


Anonymous said...

Acceptable? No, but give it another 10 years. I'd hate to see any country have high divorce rates but then again, a man committing adultry in Korea is "natural" while a woman can go to jail for the same thing. IMO, divorce is just one piece of the bigger picture re: Korea's need to go further in embracing womens' rights at home and in the workplace. It should be considered "natural" for a woman to want to end a bad and/or abusive marriage.

3gyupsal said...

Women's rights haven't really improved that much. It is a common story for completely useless drunkard men, who loose all of the family's money, who have no jobs while their wives are the bread winners - to get custody of the children in the cases of divorce. I've heard this story many times.