Is Divorce in Korea Finally Socially Acceptable?


Sorry for the lack of posts recently, and the very short notice with this one, but in an hour from now (7:45pm Korean time) I’ll briefly be on 101.3 TBS eFM’s evening show, talking about the title topic. For the details, see here, and note that unfortunately you can only listen live on Internet Explorer sorry.

Update – Well, that was a little embarrassing: because of a miscommunication, technical problem, and/or a last minute editorial decision, I didn’t actually get called in the end!

But for anyone still interested in the subject though, then I was going to mention that while on the one hand the stigma surrounding divorce is certainly disappearing over time, with 1 in 4 marriages now involving a divorcee and in particular both the numbers of women remarrying and their rate of increase outstripping those of men, on the other hand the profoundly gendered effects of the recent economic crisis here have left Korean women more financially reliant on their husbands than ever, as explained at #2 here, here, and #15 here.

Meanwhile, see here for more information on both the high rates and the practicalities of getting a divorce in Korea, and here for more on the hoju or family-registry system (호주), which had a huge role in drawing attention to people’s marital status (or parents’ status) and consequently being able to discriminate against them on that basis. Moreover, although that has recently been abolished, one final point I was going to make was that unfortunately that’s just one of many superfluous things corporations take into account in their hiring practices, as demonstrated here, at #8 here, here, here, and here, and so it’s probably going to take a while before Korean business culture catches up with the social reality.


7 thoughts on “Is Divorce in Korea Finally Socially Acceptable?

  1. I’m sorry we missed you on the show, James, next time I’ll make sure there’s no misunderstanding.

    I gave you a shout-out over at my page.

    I was surprised how much digging it took to find facts on divorce in Korea… a lot of the media articles were about south-asian brides divorcing their Korean husbands in the country-side…but those women are treated VERY sympathetically in the media, as far as I can tell.

    How much discussion of Koreans divorcing other Koreans there is? I can’t say for sure.

    Thanks for writing this.



    1. No problem: given how tired I was like I mentioned, then writing rather than speaking was probably for the best really!

      Update: Speaking of which, have only just noticed (and fixed) all the typos and mistakes in the post. Am very glad I didn’t embarrass myself on air now…


  2. I don’t see a whole lot changing, and with Korea’s population getting older I think there will be a lot of stigma for years to come, especially coming from older relatives, many of whom have stuck it out through loveless or unfaithful marriages themselves.

    What I do see is a lot of hurt and suffering children, victims of a system that does not yet see joint custody and step-parenting as normal options. My students are still amazed when I explain that in the west some children have four parents, two biological ones and two step-parents. All too often the child victims of divorce end up living with their grandparents or even in orphanages.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s