Feminism in Korea

Korea is advanced in so many respects; they have a multitude of modern technology, an efficient society and some of the smartest students in the world, (ranked third in this assessment). However, there is still an obvious gender inequality that is infested in everyday life. Personally, I believe that this disparity tarnishes the persona of Korea as a modern, progressive country.

Within my school, girls generally score better in tests, they have a sharper focus and tend to enjoy studying more than their male counterparts. Obviously, this is only a microcosm of Korea, but if this prevails in every educational environment it appears that women should be set to be the most intelligent and highly educated of the two sexes. Therefore, they should be the most attractive candidate for the highest paid and most powerful jobs in the country.

This has already happened in the case of the female president, Park Geun-hye, who is single and often claims to be married to her nation. Nevertheless, in the ‘industrial armpit’ of Korea, also known as Ulsan, it is rare for women  to be the breadwinner; in fact it is more likely that the mother will be a housewife, whilst their husband earns a wage. Actually, only around 57% of women are actively employed in Korea. Also, it is typically expected that a woman will give up her career once she is married in order to focus on concocting domestic bliss. The identity of a successful woman has metamorphosed into one who stays at home rather than one who goes out to mould her own life. This identity has permeated into the minds of young students whose life dream is to be a housewife, even though they are the smartest in their mixed sex class.

The cracks are beginning to appear, because men are forced to work long hours, or even multiple jobs in order to provide for their family. It is quite common for a father to live separate from his family in order to have a better job. Therefore, they have precious little time that they can spend with their kin. However, women are hardly encouraged to enter the workforce, as they will be hit by the reality that women make on average 39% less than men.

Female students study just as hard, if not harder than the boys in their classes. They attend multiple academies and shirk valuable sleeping time in order to stay up late in the night to study for the extent of their adolescence only to throw away all their hard work to become a homemaker. If a girl’s dream is to become a housewife, then she should be able to take her foot off the pedal during her student days and enjoy the freedom that childhood provides. The effort and money put into achieving top grades are wasted if a career is not part of the outcome.

Children watch the matriarchs of their family cooking, cleaning and serving the men throughout their national holidays. Young girls grow up to believe that this is their chosen path. Regardless of the fact that these women despise the work that they are expected to do during the festivities, they never desist what is expected of them. These women who are potentially more astute than their husbands, and have studied just as hard a as them during their youth, duly accept to be used like a servant. It’s necessary for a change to occur in the older generations in order to modify the mindset of their juniors. 

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2 thoughts on “Feminism in Korea

    1. I’ve been teaching in Korea for 14 months. This is an issue that I’ve discussed with my coworkers, friends and students. They realise that there is an inequality, and some are trying to change this, but most of them don’t want to rock the boat.

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