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Feb 27, 2023, 2:59pm EST
East Asia

Many Korean women don’t see getting married or having kids as ‘essential’

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
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The News

Many South Korean women now feel that marriage and childbirth are not crucial parts of their lives, according to a survey by the Korean Association for Social Welfare Studies.

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Know More

The association conducted a poll in 2022 among 281 men and women between the ages of 20 and 34. And the results, which were released Sunday, said that only 4% of women respondents saw marriage and having children as “mandatory,” compared to the 12.9% of men.

A majority of those who responded positively to their overall well-being and quality of life were more inclined to want marriage and kids, the Korea Herald reported.

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Step Back

South Korea has faced a demographic crisis ever since the country’s population started shrinking in 2021. In 2022, the fertility rate dropped to 0.78, the lowest since 1970.

South Korean women are pushing back on the country’s traditionally patriarchal society by going on a “so-called birth strike,” author and journalist Hawon Jong recently wrote in a New York Times column.

The Korea Herald reported that attitudes towards who should take care of children at home have changed drastically in the past 15 years, according to a different survey conducted by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.

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In 2007, nearly 65% of the government survey respondents said that mothers should take care of their children. In 2022, only 40% said that should be the case.

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The View From China

China is also experiencing a demographic downturn for the first time in six decades, for reasons that are arguably similar to South Korea’s.

Many have blamed China’s population decline on the country’s historic one-child policy coupled with mounting societal pressures on women to be mothers.

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The country’s #MeToo movement, which has often been censored by the Chinese government, has also triggered a growing aversion to marriage and childbirth.

Last month in Sichuan, the second largest province in China, local government officials announced that women could register newborn babies without needing to be married — part of a series of nationwide incentives to bolster birthrates.

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