Ministry of Health and Welfare: “Unwed Mothers are Ignorant Whores”


What? It said that? In 2011??

No, hopefully not so recently, especially with the increasing criminalization of abortion since last year. But as you’ll soon see, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (보건복지부) certainly did once define unwed mothers as such, and I’d wager within at least the last decade.

It was just in 2008, for instance, that singer Ivy (아이비) was vilified in the media for the heinous crime of having sex with her boyfriend, so by those standards the Ministry’s comments were not particularly outlandish. And while Ivy did eventually rehabilitate her reputation, unfortunately Korean society is still far from accepting women being so sexually “open and impulsive”, let alone so blatantly so as to have a child out of wedlock.

Whatever the date though, when even the organization charged with helping unwed mothers once stigmatized them, then you can imagine how badly they fare in society today.

Despite that, abortion opponents seem to have quite a sanguine image of what it’s like to raise a child as a single mother. Which is what prompted this anonymous Korean woman, who kindly recently wrote on TGN about how and why she got an abortion, to post a link to this imomNews article outlining how the reality is anything but. With thanks to Marilyn for translating it, here it is in full:

(Update – To my shock and disappointment, the Ministry’s appalling definition was actually on its website until as recently as May 2010)

‘동성애자’ 다음으로 차별 받는 집단 ‘미혼모 / Unwed Mothers Most Discriminated Group after Homosexuals

인식 개선 선행…정부지원 확대 /[With] improvement in perception as precedent. . . expansion of government aid

Image Caption: 최근 정치권을 중심으로 ‘미혼모’ 지원방안이 활발히 이루어지고 있다. 지난 3일 서울 여의도 국회에서는 ‘미혼모 지원정책 개선방안’ 포럼이 개최됐다 /Currently, political methods for supporting unwed mothers are actively becoming reality.  On Aug. 3, at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, an “Unwed Mothers Support Measures Improvement” forum was held.

‘학력이 대체로 낮고, 불안정한 직업에 종사한다. 자취나 하숙을 하고, 성에 대한 가치관이 개방적이고 충동적이다. 사회경제적 상태가 낮고 부모와 떨어져 사는 사람’이라고 과거 보건복지부가 운영하는 웹사이트 건강길라잡이는 미혼모에 대한 정의를 이렇게 내렸다.

“Usually low levels of education, with an unstable job. Lives by herself or in a boarding house, has open and impulsive sexual values.  A person whose socioeconomic situation is low, and who lives apart from her parents,” is how a website health guide operated by the past Ministry of Health and Welfare defined unwed mothers.

이처럼 사회의 부정적인 시선 탓에 미혼모에 대한 관심과 지원은 일부 사회복지시설을 제외하곤 전무후무한 것이 사실이었다.

Because of society’s negative views like these, it was true that, as for interest in and support for unwed mothers, a few social welfare facilities were the first and seemed like they would be the last.

특히, 1990년대 이후 정부와 시민단체 등의 노력으로 조손가정, 다문화 가정, 한부모 가정 등은 상당부분 인식개선이 이루어 졌으나 미혼모 가족만은 사회의 편견 속에 여전히 ‘눈총’의 대상이 되고 있다.

In particular, through the efforts of the government and civic organizations since the 1990s, perception of grandparent-grandchild families, multicultural families, and single-parent families has improved; among society’s prejudices, only unwed-mother families continue to be the target of stares.

때문에 형편이 좋지 않아 자립이 힘든 미혼모들은 자연히 입양을 생각하거나 권유받게 되고, 우리사회도 ‘낳아 기르는 쪽’ 보다는 입양을 암묵적으로 유도했다.

(I Came From Busan, 2009. Source)

Because of that, unwed mothers, whose circumstances are not good and so have difficulty supporting themselves, think of adoption of their own accord or are induced to adopt, and our society also implicitly supports the “have and raise side” less than it does adoption.

사정이 이렇다 보니 지난해 우리나라의 해외입양아는 미혼모의 자녀가 90%를 차지한 것으로 나타났다. 그러나 최근 이들에 대한 지원방안이 정치권과 시민단체, 기업 등을 중심으로 활발하게 논의되면서 미혼모 가족에 대한 관심이 일고 있다.

Because of this situation, last year it emerged that 90% of internationally adopted children from our country were the children of unwed mothers.  However, as ways to support them are currently being actively discussed in political circles, civic organizations, and businesses, interest in unwed-mother families is rising.

Image Caption: 던킨도너츠는 미혼모 정소향(21세) 씨를 정규사원으로 채용하면서 미혼모 채용에 적극 나서기로 했다 /By hiring unwed mother Jeong So-Hyang (21) as a permanent employee, Dunkin Donuts is actively taking a stand for the hiring of unwed mothers.

미혼모 인식 개선이 우선 / Improvement of perception of unwed mothers the priority

미혼모에게 가장 필요한 부분은 부정적인 사회의 시선이 관심과 보호의 시선으로 바뀌어야 하는 것이라고 전문가들은 지적했다.

Experts indicate that the most important thing unwed mothers must do is change negative societal views into feelings of interest and protection.

실제 지난 2009년 한국미혼모지원네트워크와 한국여성정책연구원이 실시한 ‘미혼모ㆍ부에 대한 한국인의 태도와 인식’ 설문조사에 따르면 미혼모는 동성애자 다음으로 가장 많은 차별을 경험한 집단으로 조사됐다.

In fact, according to the survey “Koreans’ attitudes toward and perception of unwed mothers and fathers,” carried out in 2009 by the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network and the Korean Women’s Development Institute, unwed mothers were found to be the group that experienced the most prejudice, after homosexuals.

또한 설문에 참가한 2,000명 중 60% 이상이 미혼모에 대해 ‘판단력과 책임감이 부족한 사람’이라고 답변했다.

Also, of the 2,000 people who participated in the survey, over 60% answered that unwed mothers “are people who lack judgment and a sense of responsibility.”

김혜영 한국여성정책연구원 연구위원은 “미혼모의 경우 일종의 일탈자로 낙인 받고 있다”며 “미혼 부모에 대한 과감한 지원정책이 필요하다”고 지적했다.

(Sources: left, top-right, bottom-right)

Kim Hye-young, a senior researcher at the Korean Women’s Development Institute, said, “An unwed mother is branded as a kind of deviant.  We need bold support policies for unwed parents.”

이영호 서울시 한부모가족지원센터장도 “우리사회는 다양한 가족이 있고 모든 가족은 행복할 권리가 있다”면서 “그러나 우리 사회에서 미혼모가 아기를 키우면서 자랑스럽게 또는 당당하게 양육의 경험을 공유하고 그 안에서 성장할 수 있을까란 의문이 들때가 많다”고 아쉬움을 드러냈다.

Lee Young-ho, head of the Seoul City Single Parent Family Support Center, also showed frustration:  “There are diverse families in our society, and all families have a right to be happy.  However, there are many times when I question whether unwed mothers, while raising their children, can proudly or confidently share their child-rearing experiences and develop in that [kind of environment], in our society.”

이에 최근 여성단체와 미혼모 보호 시설은 미혼모 인신 개선 사업을 적 극 펼치고 있다.

Accordingly, women’s organizations and unwed-mother shelters are currently actively engaging in a project to improve the perception of unwed mothers.

지난달 28일 서울시한부모가족지원센터와 20여 곳의 미혼모관련 단체들은 ‘미혼모지원단체협의체’를 발족하고 미혼모 인식 개선을 위한 다양한 논의를 시작했다.

On July 28, the Seoul City Single Parent Family Support Center and about twenty organizations for unwed mothers started the ‘Unwed Mother Support Organization Council” and began a variety of discussions designed to improve the perception of unwed mothers.

그 첫 번째 사업으로 사람들에게 부정적 이미지가 강했던 ‘미혼모’를 공모를 통해 ‘두리모’로 대체하기로 했다. 두리모란 ‘둥근’이라는 뜻과 둘이라는 숫자를 의미하는 방언 ‘둘레’가 조합된 것이다.

For their first project, they agreed through a public contest to replace “unwed mother”, which had a strong negative image, with “doo-ree mother.” “Doo-ree mother” combines the meaning “round” [doong-geun] with the regional dialect word dool-leh, which means “two people.”


정치권ㆍ기업, 미혼모 자립위해 노력 / Efforts by political groups, business for unwed mothers’ independence [ability to support themselves]

정치권에선 ‘미혼모 자립’을 위해 관련법을 정비하고, 토론회를 통해 다양한 의견을 청취하고 있다. 기업들도 미혼모를 우선 채용하는 등 이들의 자립을 위해 힘을 쏟고 있다.

Political groups are modifying laws in order for ‘independence for unwed mothers,’ and through panels, they are listening to diverse opinions.  Through actions like prioritizing hiring unwed mothers, businesses are also devoting themselves to the cause of their independence.

특히 민주당 최영희 의원(국회 여성가족위원회)은 미혼모에 대한 지원을 확대하는 내용을 담은 ‘입양촉진 및 절차에 관한 특례법 전부개정안’ 등 관련법을 최근 국회에 제출하는 등 법 만들기에 앞장서고 있다.

Democratic Party Assemblywoman Choi Young-hee (National Assembly Gender Equality and Family Committee), in particular, is leading the way in making laws, some of which are currently submitted to the National Assembly, like “Overall Revision Bill for the Special Act Relating to Promotion and Procedure of Adoption,” the contents of which expand support for unwed mothers.

또한 지난 3일에는 한국미혼모가족협회·한국여성정책연구원와 공동주최로 ‘미혼모 지원정책 개선방안’ 포럼을 개최했다.


Also, on June 3, the Korean Unwed Mother Families Association and the Korean Womens Development Institute co-hosted the “Unwed Mothers Support-Policy Improvement Measures” forum.

이날 최 의원은 “해외입양의 90%가 미혼모의  자녀라는 점은 우리 사회의 아픈 현실을 반영하는 것”이라며 “직접 양육하기를 원하는 미혼모가 늘어나고 있는 만큼 양육비 지원을 현실화 하고 지역사회에서 안정적인 생활을 할 수 있도록 정부의 적극적인 지원이 시급하다”고 지적했다.

On that day, Assemblywoman Choi said, “That 90% of international adoption is the children of unwed mothers reflects our society’s painful reality.  As the number of unwed mothers who want to raise their children themselves rises, the government’s active support is urgently needed to actualize aid for child-raising expenses for a stable life in a community.”

한편 이날 포럼에서 김혜영 한국여성정책연구원 박사는 ‘양육미혼모의 자립기반실태와 지원방안’에 대한 연구결과를 발표했다.

Also at this forum, Dr. Kim Hye-young, researcher at the Korean Women’s Development Institute, revealed the results of a study on the “Current State of Groundwork for Independence of and Ways to Support Unwed Mothers Raising Children.”

김 연구원은 “60%가 넘는 미혼모가 양육비와 교육비의 문제로 어려움을 겪고 있고, 80%이상은 월세와 같은 불안정적인 주거생활을 하는 것으로 나타났다”면서 “안정적인 자립기반 구축을 위해 미혼모 가족에 대한 조기 개입의 필요성과 함께 지원의 폭을 보다 확대할 필요가 있다”고 주장했다.

Dr. Kim said, “It showed that over 60% of unwed mothers are struggling because of the costs of child-rearing and education, and more than 80% live in unstable housing situations like [those requiring] monthly rent. In order to build stable foundations for independence, early intervention for unwed-mother families, together with an expansion of the range of support, is necessary.” (Source, right)

또 목경화 한국미혼모가족협회 대표도 “우리나라의 미혼모정책은 시설에만 초점이 맞춰져 있어 시설에서 벗어나 자립을 하려는 미혼모들은 빈곤 상황을 쉽게 개선하지 못하는 실정이다”고 지적했다.

Furthermore, Mok Gyeong-hwa, a representative from the Korean Unwed Mothers and Families Association, pointed out, “Policies regarding unwed mothers in our country only focus on facilities, so unwed mothers who want to break free from facilities and live independently can’t easily improve their state of poverty.”

최 의원은 이날 논의된 내용을 바탕으로 ‘한부모가족지원법 개정안’과 ‘국민기초생활보장법 개정안’을 제출할 예정이다.

Assemblywoman Choi will present the “Single-Parent Family Support Law Amendment” and “National Basic Living Security Law Amendment” based on the discussions of that day.

기업들도 미혼모 자립을 위해 적극적으로 나서고 있다. 던킨도너츠와 배스킨라빈스를 운영하는 비알코리아는 미혼모 시설인 사회복지법인 동방사회복지회와 함께 미혼모 고용지원 협약을 체결하고, 던킨도너츠 매장에서 파트타임으로 근무하던 미혼모 정소향(21세) 씨를 정식 사원을 채용했다

Businesses are also actively taking a stand for the independence of unwed mothers.  BR Korea, which operates Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins, together with the  Eastern Social Welfare Society, a welfare corporation that is an unwed mother [support] facility, signed the Unwed Mothers Employment Support Agreement and recruited unwed mother Jeong So-hyang (21), who had been a part-time employee at a Dunkin Donuts shop,  as a permanent employee.

June 16, 2011.

Reporter: Cheon Won-gi (천원기,

29 thoughts on “Ministry of Health and Welfare: “Unwed Mothers are Ignorant Whores”

  1. The lack of women’s rights and independence in Korea often infuriates me. I am shocked that 90% of the adoptions are from unwed mothers…although, in reflection, it does make sense. Despite the fact that abortions are illegal, many of the girls who do get pregnant are encouraged to abort (by the just-as-irresponsible-if-not-more-so father). I think, just like abortion, women should be able to choose what they want and society should support them. It just seems very backwards for the government to discourage these women raising their own children but give a lot of incentives for married people to have children. **sigh**


  2. South Korea is so damn Victorian when it comes down to sex and famililies, and it just infuriates me. The prejudice against “unwed mothers”(gah, even the term itself presets any parenting outside of the institution of marriage as abnormal; instead of making a well-intended yet lame name like doo-ri mother, why not just SINGLE MOTHER?) is obviously rooted deeply in medieval patriarchy. I can attest to it, because I grew up in a single-parent household in Korea.

    Our mother always told us “if you misbehave, they’ll say it’s because you don’t have a father” and she wasn’t paranoid or something, because people-relatives and teachers and students-DID hold it against us. And we weren’t even born out of wedlock, mother was just widowed-yet the very fact that we “lacked” a father was socially accepted as a weakness, a stain, the singular source of whatever negative qualities we had. My last few years at elementary school were horrible because everybody knew about my father’s death (I had to cut school to go to the funeral and burial, after all). Kids mocked and bullied me about it, knowing very well it’ll make me break down-and when I retorted with teary-eyed anger the teacher would punish me and also add the complementary “no wonder you’re such a mean child-you’ve got no father!” Because of this experience I tried my very best during junior high and high school to conceal the “fatherless” status of my family. Looking back it’s kind of funny, as there was no reason for me to be so ashamed of something like that-but social pressures and prejudices can and will force minorities to hate and blame themselves for the unfair treatment they’re receiving.

    Remember this was just a widow and her kids, so it’s no surprise that unmarried mothers are treated as deviant social outcasts. (although for some reason very few people seem to blame the father so much-apparently Korean society thinks unwed mothers reproduce like New Mexico whiptails…?) And child welfare and parental support still presumes a family formed by a married, heterosexual couple. Which serves Korea right for its incredibly low birth rate.


    1. Wow, even widows can’t get a break? I wasn’t sure what Koreans thought about that. I thought there would be some sympathy, but I was mistaken. That is really sad.


      1. To be fair, I was growing up in the mid-90s so things could be a little better now, hopefully. Also divorce rates are pretty high, which can also mean more single-parent families.

        My mother avoided talking about her widowed status, because she was sick of unwanted sexual advances and harrassments since previously-married-but-now-single women are considered “easy” for some reason (an Iranian friend said it’s the same in Iran, so it’s a universal response that just comes along with patriarchy and misogyny), or being looked down upon because she has no man to back her up. She didn’t conceal it like I did as a teenager; when inquired about her husband, she will reply he passed away, but neither was she open about it. Part of the reason she dragged us to church every Sunday (although we weren’t baptized Catholics or anything) was to avoid curious glances or private questions Koreans consider mandatory when getting friendly with strangers. (with kids, people will assume her husband’s just not religious, instead of looking strange at a woman that age coming to church alone) I’d like to think an article like this proves Korean society is trying to be more accepting towards non-traditional families, though we still have a long way to go.


    2. I’m so sorry for your experiences. I hope that these movements have some success so other little innocent kids don’t have to put up with that crap.

      As a student of Korean, though, I have to ask – how would you PUT single mother in Korean? I couldn’t find a similarly general term. Would you go like 싱글모?


      1. 싱글맘 is already being widely used in the media, a definition that includes unwed/divorced/widowed moms. Japan also uses shingurumaza シングルマザー(Japanese pronunciation of the English word “single mother”) to define single mothers. If the “unwed” stuff just HAS to be included, I’d prefer 비혼모 rather than 미혼모. The word 미혼 未婚-which actually means “not married yet” instead of “unmarried/single”-has been problematized and questioned as it suggests marriage as a default condition. As a result, women’s rights groups and certain government polls have begun to use 비혼 (非婚 which simply means, “not married/unmarried”) recent years.


  3. Is the title of this post not highly misleading, if not bordering on defamatory? The Ministry said no such thing. It certainly got me reading, I’ll admit.

    To me, the challenge with this issue is to somehow find a balance between encouraging two-parent homes, while at the same time not stigmatizing single mothers. Just how this is done, I don’t know. With extreme difficulty I imagine. Many stigmas have, or had in the past, social functions, even if they also resulted in much misery. I don’t think a more open attitude toward single mothers, which would be welcome, should have to simultaneously lead to a reluctance to promote two-parents households, or to absolute relativity about family structure, which I think has happened in the West to some degree. It has sort of become an all-or-nothing argument for some people: All families are the same, and if you don’t agree, you’re medieval, bigoted etc.

    The ideal, as I see it, is to acknowledge the benefits of two-parent families, while treating single-parent families with respect, support and compassion.


    1. I’ll certainly admit that the title is designed to get you to read, but I strongly disagree that its “highly misleading”. Specifically, because just in the second paragraph of the article discussed it says (my emphasis):

      Usually low levels of education, with an unstable job. Lives by herself or in a boarding house, has open and impulsive sexual values. A person whose socioeconomic situation is low, and who lives apart from her parents,” is how a website health guide operated by the past Ministry of Health and Welfare defined unwed mothers.

      Yes, technically it didn’t say “ignorant whores”, but that definition above amounts to much the same thing. And I’m also quite clear that the Ministry defined unwed mothers as such only at an undefined point in its past, and not today.

      (Update: I’ve edited the opening slightly to make that even clearer still)

      I’ll concede that preferably I should have done more research on what website health guide, when it was up, and who within the Ministry wrote that exactly before posting though, and certainly I will follow that up and report back on what I find in the near future. But then in this case I’m not the source of that information you consider misleading, rather the Korean website linked to is, and this blog post is just a translation of that really. Granted, if I use that (lazy) excuse then probably I should have retained the same title for my post that the original source used, but nevertheless I still think I’m well within my bounds in highlighting a different point in the article instead.


      1. I think John makes a good point about the title being somewhat misleading (I would not be surprised if this becomes a K-blog meme where those who spread it wrongly believe the Korean version of “ignorant whore” was what was actually said), but at the same time I think Mr Turnbull makes a good case that it’s not highly misleading.

        But the quote in the second paragraph is taken out of context for the purposes of the attention-grabbing title. In describing the common cases of unwed motherhood, the website describes a typical unwed mother as having a lower education level and unstable work. Rather than adding up to an intention of calling them “ignorant,” I think it may be trying to lay out the case that they need more help.

        And while a woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock is in fact failing to live up to traditional Korean sexual mores and could thus be described as having “open sexual values” (relative to those frequently ignored mores), the Ministry may have employed poor word choice.

        Still, saying a woman who has sex before marriage is 개방적 about sex and who likely didn’t properly use contraceptive methods is 충동적, is not the same as using the epithet “whore,” a word which takes things to an offensive new level. (It reminds me of those who take the somewhat offensive 껌둥이 and choose to translate it as the N-word, which in English is levels higher in terms of offense and violence than 껌둥이 is in Korean.)

        In their description of typical cases, the Ministry website should have foregone the urge to discuss their sexual openness or impulsiveness (or the lack thereof, since many an unmarried pregnant woman got that way with very little sexual experience) at all, but describing them as often less educated and less financially secure libertines is not the same as calling them “ignorant whores.”


        1. Again I disagree with just about all of that, and consider your argument apologist. Certainly in isolation then saying that unwed mothers tend to have low education levels and unstable work is accurate, and could indeed be highlighted for the sake of “trying to lay out the case that they need more help”. You could even construe the same from the guide pointing out that they live away from their parents too (still quite taboo in Korea), which – assuming that those parents don’t help them – would make their position even more precarious.

          However, this benign interpretation is completely upended by inserting the additional statement about “open and impulsive sexual values”. To your credit, you do acknowledge that this was unnecessary and inaccurate. But then you also seem at great pains to describe its authors as merely misguided and/or sloppy in their choice of words, whereas it’s clear to me (and I’d argue most readers of that paragraph) that however you look at it, they were actually completely pig-ignorant and bigoted. I ask you what serious, competent organization charged with helping unwed mothers would ever describe them as sexual “libertines”, your most positive spin on the statement? Or feel compelled to mention their supposed sexual values at all? Even saying – as you suggest – that the authors actually intended to say unwed mothers “fail to live up to Korean sexual mores” is ignorant enough, as you point out, and I struggle to find a useful purpose in them doing so.

          I put it to you then, that the authors of the guide clearly blame “open and impulsive sexual values” for…

          Hell, why have I wasted an hour on this comment? “Impulsive”??? It’s blatantly blaming the woman themselves, and consequently damned offensive. Translating that into English as “whore” is completely appropriate.

          Finally, I will concede though, that “Ill-educated”, say, would technically be better than “ignorant”, but I’ll leave the title up as it is for the sake of not confusing this comments thread. In particular, I’m definitely not going to change it for the sake of avoiding a K-blog meme, because: a) it’s not misleading at all, b) I’m not responsible for people who just read the title of a post, but can’t be bothered to read the caveats starting in the very first line of that post, and c) actually I think the vast majority of visitors to my blog do read the post, and completely understand how and what context the Ministry said what it did about unwed mothers. After all, you did, so why wouldn’t they?


    2. Just saw this story…this is the most well thought out and balanced comment I have seen on this subject. Children DON need two parents, a good father IS necessary, however, an unwed mother is better than an aborted child. Children and mothers should be treated kindly no matter what the situation. The world is changing, but we cannot take an “all or nothing at all” position on this subject.


  4. While I have sympathy for single mothers and their children, I don’t think it is necessarily a good idea to promote policies which lead to an increase in their numbers.
    Frankly, the US and Western countries should be doing much more to reduce the number of out of wedlock pregnancies and single-mothers.
    I have always regarded Korean females as being more responsible than their Western counterparts in that they usually opt not to bring a child into the world outside of marriage.
    In the US it is not uncommon to meet a single mother with several children each from a different father.
    This kind of fragmented non-family is what has lead to the irreversible decline of the US.
    Should we be urging Korean females and policy makers to adopt the model of the US? I think not.


    1. What’s wrong with having a child out of wedlock? Or a family where the children don’t have the same father? Also, why is taking away the stigma surrounding single mothers a bad thing? I’m pretty sure the decline (and what kind of decline are you referring to: economically or socially?) in the US isn’t from expanding the definition of a family beyond two hetero parents with two children.


  5. Tiny Guest,

    In fact, there is very clear data that suggests children do best in a two-parent home. Children from one-parent homes are at a greater risk poverty, imprisonment and other negatives outcomes. Aside from that, I think, where it is feasible, a child deserves a dad. And would anyone really argue that bringing up a child on your own is not harder?

    This is not an attack on anyone, single mother, child of one, or anyone else. However, compassion for other types of family should not lead us to deny the benefits of two loving parents.


    1. Yes, one-parent homes are with higher risks, but these risks are because of lack of time and lack of finances, not solely because there’s one less person or the parent doesn’t care. If there was proper aide for single parent homes this could be countered. This could also help out two-parent homes as aide in general for parents is sorely lacking. It depends on class and privilege on how hard raising a child on your own can be. I recognize that as a woman who is part of the middle class I would potentially have an easier time compared to a woman who is part of the working class. I can understand the idea of every child deserving a dad when feasible, but what’s great about today is that male role model doesn’t have to be linked to the child by blood or romantically linked to the parent. It could be taken over by an uncle, cousin, friend of the parent so long as said parent gives an acceptance. Because two parents isn’t always going to be feasible. People leave, break up, die. In the US I can even add tricked to that list because of anti-choice groups that will do anything to insure a woman keeps her baby, even if it’s not in her best interest and they don’t care what happens after it’s born. Currently there’s a proposed law on the ballot in Mississippi that if it’s passed would challenge Roe vs. Wade, which is pretty terrifying as an American woman. One way to certainly lower unplanned pregnancies would be super cheap and easy access to birth control and access to an abortion that doesn’t require a doctor doing an ultrasound while describing the fetus to the woman before an abortion.

      No one is denying the benefits of two parents. It’s about making the definition of family recognize there’s more kind of families beyond two hetero parents; because a stigma around certain types of family does not benefit anyone. It just causes pain and creates a social barrier when a family did nothing wrong. That’s why I wanted to know what’s wrong with having a child out of wedlock (there’s also plenty of two parent homes that aren’t married, but have children) or when a family has children that don’t share the same father, especially because you called them a “non-family” (which I admit to finding offensive because you’re saying they’re not a family because they lack a father figure) and basically were blaming these “non-families” for the downfall of a society in your previous post when expanding what defines “family” is highly doubtful to be the cause.


    2. Oh damnation. Sorry about that John. I’m not sure how I read John as Cmxc, so ignore the “you” as I can’t edit accordingly. What bugs me is I even scrolled up and down to cross checks posts and still read the username incorrectly. So much for having correct eyesight.


    3. “Children from one-parent homes are at a greater risk poverty, imprisonment and other negatives outcomes.”

      Please be aware: this is true, but only BECAUSE of the stigma attached to single-parent families. No jobs, social ostracism, pressure on the children and mother blame. It’s the social stigmatization that causes these problems, not the act of having a child out of wedlock ITSELF.

      Raising a child is harder on your own because of the cost of living, lack of full-time opportunities, and lack of family welfare programs such as national childcare. Of course having a dual income household is better, but even some families with two parents can barely afford a child. Again this is the result of the social and economic climate, NOT the fault of the act of having a child out of wedlock.

      A child does not “deserve” a dad. A child deserves (a) responsible, mature adult(s) to raise them–one is the minimum. There are plenty of lesbian couples who raise children just as effectively as single-mom or mom-dad families. Don’t assume that a father role is necessary for success in the child’s life; it’s not.


      1. Please be aware: this is true, but only BECAUSE of the stigma attached to single-parent families.

        “Only because of the stigma”? Hardly.

        Being a single-parent household provides far less financial security in case of job loss, economic downturn, etc. Having to raise a child by oneself also tends to cut short educational opportunities, which in turn lead to lower-paying economic opportunities and a higher chance of losing one’s job. The poverty that often ensues then exposes one to other negative socioeconomic factors far more than if one were in the middle or upper SES.

        Even if society were completely accepting of unwed mothers and there were no stigma, the financial effects alone are stacked against single parents, whether they are fathers or mothers, but especially mothers.


        1. Ok, there’s two threads to untangle here – the American and Korean cultures, economies, and educational systems do not react to single parents the same way, and you’re treating them as if they’re much more analagous than they are.

          In America, single parenthood is NOT necessarily strongly correlated with poverty – 70% of families headed by an unmarried woman are above the poverty level, and nearly 90% of families headed by single fathers are above the poverty line. Most single-parent families in the US are also headed by people who were once married – divorce is the most common reason for single-parent families in the US. Of births to unmarried women, very few of US births are to women still in their teens, and birth rates for teens declined quite a bit from the early 90’s to the early 00’s (although the shift towards abstinence-only sex ed seems to be reversing this somewhat). Most women who have children where they are not married to their partners are in their 20’s and 30’s, and many are actually cohabitating with partners, even though unmarried. In other words, while single-parent families face challenges, they hardly seemed doomed to poverty or the death of educational attainment, since we’re talking about families where the adults have already completed most of their education.

          So, now we’ll just assume that you mean to talk about single teen mothers only. But even there, we have problems – see, it’s less that teen births cause poverty than most teen births take place already in conditions of poverty. A baby makes it harder to get out of poverty if you’re already in it (although frankly, you don’t have much hope anyway, even sans child), but it doesn’t usually cause poverty itself. Also, some recent studies indicate that most unmarried minor mothers had already withdrawn from the educational system before the pregnancy. In short, births to unmarried minors in the US are symptomatic of existing low educational attainment and poverty, not the cause of it.

          In Korea, social stigma against teen mothers and unwed mothers in general is much stronger. Schools retaliate against pregnant teens by expelling or otherwise punishing them, doing their best to ensure a negative educational outcome, which in turn causes poverty. Most of these mothers indicate in surveys that they very much want to continue their educations, but were actively prevented. In the US, circumstances make it difficult to attend school if you have a child to take care of, but at least the schools do not actively discriminate against you and prevent you from re-enrolling. There’s no real reason NOT to re-admit a student who had had a child, except stigma. The same goes with job hunting – I mean, can you imagine it being a big progressive deal if Dunkin Donuts in the US openly declared they were willing to let unmarried mothers work for them? No? That’s because it isn’t. In Korea, DD gets to show off how fantastically kind they are to actually let one be a manager.

          So yeah, in short, social stigma is a major, MAJOR factor in poor financial and educational outcomes for unwed mothers in Korea in a way that it is NOT for unwed mothers in the US.


  6. First off: Nice article.
    And as for the title, i think it nails the issue, since the Ministry says exactly the same with just a more fancy wording.

    As for the stigma of being a single-mom in Korea: It’s sad and wrong in so many ways, to make an already difficult situation (socially and financially) even nastier.
    The word ‘Pariah’ in all its facets comes to mind.


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