Posts Tagged With: Korean culture

Gender in Korea

I remember reading a very brief news article about spousal rape in Korea when I was doing research in field. However, I didn’t have time to reflect or write about it then.

At the time I read that article, I was initially surprised that there weren’t stronger policies or penalties for perpetrators involved in sexual assault or spousal rape. And while I knew about the violence, unequal treatment and status of women around the world, I made a mistake in assuming that an economically advanced society would have developed and implemented policies that prevent and condemn gendered violence.

Another lesson in self-awareness took place when I realized that my automatic assumptions and reaction of surprise to reality is a reflection of my own experience and perspective as a woman in the U.S. For me, it took the experience of traveling abroad and living in another culture, to realize the social and legal protection of my rights and status as a woman are something that I have taken for granted, and that many women in the world do not have their rights realized.

Spousal rape hot discussion topic

The news article above was posted a few days ago on Korea Joongang Daily’s website and motivated me to blog and share this with others who may not know this human rights violation is happening in Korea. Some of the statements from those opposing legislation that penalize the perpetrating spouse were unbelievable.

“In Korea, once a woman is married, she is typically considered part of a family, which then in a way makes her no longer considered a woman.”

“In family relationships, a father does not see his wife or daughters as women.”

“If we punish the ‘marital rape’ cases without considering the special nature of the relationship between a husband and a wife, it could possibly give those wives who have a bad relationship with their husband a chance to bend the rules to their favor when they file a divorce suit,”

I thought I had gained a better understanding of gender inequality in Korea, but through my experiences in field and living in Korea, had sense of hope for very slow, but gradual progress for Korean womens’ rights. But reading this recent article and learning that people still view sexual violence as acceptable in the relationship between husband and wife puts me back to a place where I feel like I still know nothing.

As much as I try to consider and understand these gender and family issues with the cultural, societal, and historical context of Korea, I can’t accept it. Furthering my understanding about the universality of human rights and cultural relativism, which I first learned about in my program, would be worth doing as I think about gender rights and human rights violations in Korea.

Categories: Family issues, Human Rights issues, Korean Culture, Other Social Welfare Issues, Social Work, Women's Issues | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unwed mothers in Korea: An adoptee’s impression

KUMSN Newsletter feature: Unwed mothers in Korea: An adoptee’s impression

KUMSN included a short column that I wrote in their February-March 2013 newsletter. It is mostly bits and pieces of things I’ve already written in my previous blogs, but I thought I would share because of the wonderful picture! 🙂 Anyway, I do have many thing that I would like to post about but please bear with me!  KUMSN has been very busy and I have been involved in some of the research and projects. I am also without a personal computer and have been depending on my smart phone when I am not at the KUMSN office.  In the meantime, here are some more delicious pictures of the food I have been enjoying and some information about the recent holiday in Korea!

The Lunar New Year passed this month on February 10th but the whole weekend was like a holiday.  I was even off from field the following Monday and Tuesday!  Department stores and shops were packed with people buying gifts, groceries, and other things to prepare for the celebration. Usually, the new year is spent with families and most businesses close although buses, subways, and some convenience stores stay open.  From what I could tell, this holiday is a major holiday, similar to our Christmas season.

Seollal, Lunar New Year food

Dduk guk is the traditional dish made to celebrate Seollal or the Lunar New Year. It is a soup with rice cakes (dduk), beef, and many other things in it.


The InKAS president cooked a traditional Seollal meal for guesthouse residents!


A delicious ending to our new year feast from the bakery called Peter Pan!

The InKAS president cooked all the food for the Lunar New Year, (“Seollal” or 설날 in Korean) since many of the guesthouse residents were not spending it with family.  She wore a traditional hanbok and everyone there learned what is called “sae bae” (새해), in which children traditionally bow to their parents or grandparents and receive money in an envelope.  Also, according to Korean culture or traditions, Korean people turn one year older after they finish eating their “dduk guk” soup.  My Korean age is 29 (which is way closer to 30 than I would like to think about).


Hand-drip coffee is popular in Korea and luckily there is a cafe down the street from the guesthouse!


Categories: Field Experience, Korean Culture | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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