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.
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.