Social Justice

In South Korea, our country has the basic civil rights and liberties most other countries have.  However, there is still restrictions of freedom pertaining to minority group.  Discrimination against gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgender (LGBT) people is still a problem in South Korea.  Additionally, ethnic minorities, foreigners, refugees, and people with HIV are a major problem as well. They do not receive the same amount of support or advocacy from South Korea. My brother is gay, and he felt unsafe in expressing his true feelings in South Korea.  He was scared if someone at his company knew he was gay, he may never get promoted or lose his job.  Companies such as Hyundai are a big deal in South Korea and if you get into one, you best stay in it to advance up the ladder.  To get a job like this, is seen as a big social status in South Korea.  My brother felt pressured to conform to the expectations of the company and South Korea.  Being a gay man in an organizational setting is not viewed as a good thing. South Korea does not take discriminatory cases very seriously and would not act if a company decided to drop an employee who was gay.

In South Korea, you can only be imprisoned for up to 7-years and a fine for the crimes committed.  South Korea is less focused on crime and more concerned with monetary gains and improvements. They impose criminal penalties on anyone who tries to form an anti-government campaign and takes these groups very seriously.  The government of South Korea tries to prevent people from portraying it in a negative fashion.  People are not able to express what needs to be changed in our home country and this is a difference I see here in the United States where people are able to protest all over the nation without the government imposing criminal penalties onto the people.

South Korea has a migrant policy allowing migrants to travel to and work in South Korea, however the workers there are not treated well. They are required to work odd hours, long hours, and receive no overtime pay.  They are paid significantly less money than a South Korean worker for the same work.  Our country has a migrant policy but takes advantage of those coming to South Korea looking for work.  They do not treat them equally.  Migrant women are exposed to work conditions where sexual harassment may not be addressed.  Some women have been trafficked through their new employers. Women in these situations felt they had no choice but to remain working because of their debt to the employers and lack of resources for help according to Amnesty International.  They were scared if they ran away, they would lose legal status or be deported by the government.

References

Musakhodjaev, B. (2017) Stop human rights violation in South Korea

https://www.change.org/p/stop-human-rights-violation-in-south-korea

World Report 2018: South Korea, Human Rights Watch

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/south-korea

 

Relationships

Relationships

During the Chosun Dynasty and rise of Confucianism, women were not to be seen by anyone outside of the family and were restricted to the home.  Women were allowed to go outside once a day after a bell rung.  This bell would signal men to come inside so the women may roam outside the home for a brief period of the day. Aside from this, they were confined to the home only able to peek outside.  Women are seen as caretakers of the home while men are expected to provide for the family. The relationships were compartmentalized and specific.  The family is seen as a unit rather than an individual with the freedom to choose.  Each member of the family has expectations placed on them by the family members of the household. Men were expected to work, provide, and protect.  Women were expected to clean, cook, and comfort for their families.  Confucianism is patriarchal in its approach to gender roles in the family system.  The expectations parents have for their children in a South Korean household is for them to become more successful and knowledgeable than themselves.  The relationship is a symbiotic because the growth of the family or children is viewed as the growth of yourself.  The family unit and name is of great importance in South Korea.

Koreans often form relationships with other people in group settings. My culture is a collectivistic one and even dating is a group thing.  Group dating is common in our country.  Often times, family or close friends will try to set you up on a blind date with someone they feel is a good match or appropriate mate for you.  Parents often try to find a person to marry for you and look for desirable qualities for their child’s potential mate.  The communication in Korean culture is traditionally indirect and dating, is a good depiction of this in my country.  Conversely, American men and women have expectations for the opposite gender (or same gender) to pursue what he or she desires directly.  As a woman, I relied on my family and close friends to help me find the right person for me.  In Korea, the eldest son is the one who inherits the family riches. The eldest son always has a big commitment to take care of the family and this is why he is given the inheritance.  He is expected to take care of everyone in his family and is next in line as the head of the family after the father.  As a woman, you do not have these expectations placed upon you but you are also dismissed when it comes to pursuing your own career or interests.  Family is first and you may be expected to pursue what the family expects and desires you too.  Family communication is important.  I am always messaging my mother and father to let them know where I am and what I am doing. This is because my parents want to know I am safe, but they also want to know what I am doing.  They expect me to be productive in my studies and extracurricular practices. It is nice to know I am cared about. However, it can feel over-bearing at times.  I do not want to always report what I am doing to my family.  They do not give me much privacy. The family wants to know what everyone is up to because it ensures you are contributing to the family system.  They want to know you are doing your part.  Messaging throughout the day with your family is a constant thing in South Korea.  Messaging with your partner is important too because people expect you to communicate with them to show how much you care.  It is show an effort to keep in touch throughout the busy work day.  Korean life is a fast paced and busy one. As a result, messaging is way to make up for the busy life and lack of opportunity for face to face communication.

 

References

Cadena, R. (2018) On Love & Relationships in South Korea.  The Is Rocio, explore and celebrate culture.

 

Maynes, K. (2012). Korean Perceptions of Chastity, Gender Roles, and Libido; From Kisaengs to the Twenty First Century. Grand Valley Journal of History, 1(2).

 

Sorenson, C. W. (2010) The Value and Meanign of the Korean Family. Center for Global Education.

 

https://culturalatlas.sbs.com.au/south-korean-culture/south-korean-culture-family

http://countrystudies.us/south-korea/38.htm

https://14a03gp.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/family-structure-in-south-korea/

http://www.everyculture.com/Ja-Ma/South-Korea.html

 

Gender Roles

In Korea, women are traditionally expected to be the primary caretaker of the children and the household.  The man is expected to work to provide for his family and the woman is expected to take care of everything at home.  However, South Korea gender roles have been slowly changing recently.   The number of men who stay at home grew from 106,000 men in 2003 to 170,000 men in 2017 (Yim, 2018).  As a woman it is nice to see this is beginning to change in our culture, so I may aspire to do things other than be a good housewife.  I felt my traditional culture limits me as a woman.  Living in America is different.  Women here have more freedom to do as they please.  The gender roles in America are not as strict as they are where I am from in Korea.  Especially here in California.  They are still fighting for women’s rights and equality but seem to be farther along in this process than in South Korea. I am glad my parents and siblings moved to America.  I hope myself and my future family have a future where they do not have to be confined by gender roles and expectations.  It has caused me stress as a woman.  I do not want to have to be submissive, fertile, obscure, and sexually subservient to be validated as a human being. I feel I have qualities that give me value as a person outside of what is traditionally valued from a Korean woman. Korean women have had their worth based upon their devotion to a man’s expectations. Centuries ago, women were valued on their ability to give birth to males and provide heirs for men.  They were not valued on who they were, but what they could provide.  A woman would be addressed as a “The wife of Yung So” instead of “Jin So”.  This attributes to a lack of individuality and identity for women.  This has carried over centuries and this is why the progress we have made is encouraging.  I do not want other Korean women like myself to feel they are trapped in a society where they are valued for what they can provide their husbands rather than the content of their character. As of 2017, nine out of ten women think they are not treated equally to men in South Korea.  A survey conducted in South Korea showed 93 percent of participants did not think Korea was a gender equal country, 5 percent did not respond, and only 2 percent said Korea was gender equal. Roughly 23 percent of participants experienced sexual discrimination.

References

 

Maynes, K. (2012). Korean Perceptions of Chastity, Gender Roles, and Libido; From Kisaengs to the Twenty First Century. Grand Valley Journal of History, 1(2).

Yim, H. (2018). Gender Roles at Home Changing in South Korea. The Korea Bizwire.

http://countrystudies.us/south-korea/40.htm

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/9-in-10-south-korean-women-say-their-country-is-sexist-most-discrimination-happens-at

Societal Norms

In Korea, we were taught English at a young age by a ESL teacher in our schools.  The teachers also tried to teach us about English culture.  We have learned about the movies, sports, presidents and other popular culture of the United States.  However, dating is much different here than it is in America.  In Korea, a man would contact me multiple times throughout the day to see what I was doing.  My former boyfriends would message me in the morning, lunch, afternoon, evening, and before they go to bed.  However, the couple of men that have shown interest in me here in the United States only call or text me one time per day.  I asked both of them about it but they both insisted they were interested in dating me.  In Korea, we have many celebrations and anniversaries throughout the year to celebrate the relationship and we message each other more frequently.  In Korea, a woman is expected to respect herself to honor her family and future husband.  If you have sex with any other man who is not your husband, then technically you are “disgraced”.  You have shamed yourself, your family, and your future spouse.  There is a lot of pressure to abide by societal expectations. It is also an expectation for man to pay for the dates in Korea. The woman is not expected to pay for things.  Here in America, sometimes men do expect you to pay for a date and this is not usually the case.  I am still getting used to dating in America.

Marriage is also much different.  In South Korea, a man is supposed to provide his future mother-in-law with a token representing family structure and love.  The mother approves of the wedding rather than the father.  In America, I have heard people talking about how a man is supposed to ask his future father-in-law for his wife’s hand in marriage.  The weddings are also a bit different because in South Korea the parents of the bride and groom can invite as many people as they want for the wedding and celebration.  Weddings are usually very large.  Weddings are also seen as a celebration of family in addition to the celebration of the unification.

In our country my friend Anyo, had a child with disability.  In South Korea, a woman is solely expected to take on the social burden of raising the kid with a disability.  Raising a child with disability has been recognized as a major stressor for family caregiving.  It is nice to see that in America there are programs to help you with your disabled child. In South Korea, this all falls on the mother.  This leads to a lot of pressure on the woman but in America it’s a little different.  It seems like there is a collective effort for social responsibility of the disabled child.  Its nice to see.

I have noticed older people in America like it when you look at them while you are talking but it makes me feel very uncomfortable.  In South Korea, we do not look or stare at our elders in the eyes while we are talking because it is a sign of disrespect to the elder.  Elders in our country, are viewed as sacred and wise. We really value the lessons, wisdom, and insight an elder has to offer a young person.  For this reason, respecting our elders is very important in South Korea culture.  It does not seem Americans value elderly the same way we do. Most elderly people live in their own community.  In South Korea, the family takes care of the elderly in respect for their contributions to the family.  In America, you respect elders as children but when you become an adult you are viewed as an equal.  In South Korea, this is not the case. Your elder is viewed with more respect because of their distinction in years.

https://zkorean.com/about_korea/korean_customs/respect

https://cupofjo.com/2015/07/parenting-in-south-korea/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10349120902868624

https://korcan50years.com/2015/11/09/5-korean-dating-rules-that-may-surprise-you/

https://www.linandjirsa.com/korean-wedding-traditions/

https://dasbloggen.com/2014/04/12/cultural-differences-and-respect-in-korea/

 

My Development in South Korea

My Childhood in South Korea consisted of a heavy focus on academics.  From the time I was in first grade I had a tutor to help me progress in math and other important subjects. I noticed the education system in the United States does not utilize tutoring until you are underperforming in a certain subject.  In my country, we are proactive in getting someone to ensure our success in academics. I had a tutor at age 5 to help me effectively learn math.  In my family, there was a lot of pressure to perform well in school from my parents.  Performing well in school was important because your performance is a reflection on the family.  To not do well, is to show you do not care about how your family is viewed.  There is an emphasis on collectivism.  In America, if you do not do well in school, then you are seen as an individual who does not care about your performance.  In South Korea, this is a reflection on your elders.  I remember I felt stressed about how much pressure I felt to live up to the expectations of my family.  I did not want to let my loved ones down or make them think I did not care.  I have done well in school.

I spent a lot of my time outside of school with my family.  My family values quality, cooperation, and respect.  We liked to watch movies together.  Sometimes the movies we watched together were from America.  My family let us watch Disney movies and through movies we began to learn basic English together.  We enjoyed the movies.  A lot of us here in South Korea begin using our smartphones at around 10-12 year of age.  By age 12, 72 percent of children in South Korea have a phone.  We use applications to make phone calls and send text messages using WiFi networks for free.

I enjoyed listening to pop music.  Pop (K-Pop) is popular in South Korea and a lot of us are into pop culture.  I enjoy listening to BTS, my favorite pop band.  This is a band of 7 boys and I think a couple of them are attractive.  I liked to stay up on my fashion growing up.  There is an expectation to look nice and be up to date on the latest styles in Korea.  People like to present themselves in style and take pride in appearance. As a girl we are expected to dress nice, but not be too revealing.

One of my hobbies is practicing Tae Kwon Do.  My father was a Tae Kwon Do black belt and taught classes at the local facility.  As a girl I enjoy learning Tae Kwon Do to protect myself, but also to learn and practice Confucian values.  Confucianism is a part of my family’s religious beliefs and is embedded in our culture.  Confucianism emphasizes respecting your elders, duty to society, maintaining rules, loyalty to family, sincerity, and showing humility to others (etc.).  My family and I do not view ourselves as separate from one another but see ourselves collectively.  This is why we are motivated to do well in education and our careers, so we can sufficiently represent our family. Being ethically sound and working hard brings good fortune to my family.

 

References

Cha, K. (2017). Relationships among negative emotionality, responsive parenting and early socio-cognitive development in Korean children. Infant And Child Development, 26(3).

Chu, H. (2018). What is life like for South Korean kids? Busy. The Washington Post.

Kim, K. H. (2009).  Cultural influence on creativity: The relationship between Asian culture (Confucianism) and creativity among Korean educators. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 43(2), 73-93.

First Post

Hello everyone, my name is Yunso Kim! I was born in South Korea where I lived most of my childhood and adolescent years.  I am South Korean from the city of Seoul.  I am the youngest of two children (older brother). I enjoy reading, spending time with family, exercising, and yoga. This page was made to connect with anyone who would like to know more about me and my culture (: