Korea’s “Lonely Geese” Families: More of them than you may think

Back in July, I wrote a lengthy post* on the reasons behind and implications for Korean society of the high numbers of “weekend couples” (주말부부) and “lonely geese fathers” (외기러기) here, the latter generally referring to fathers who remain in Korea to work while their families live overseas for the sake of the children’s eduction. Back then, no statistics on the numbers of either seemed to be Shy Korean Boyavailable, so I speculated that the combination of both meant that a total of perhaps one in fifteen to one in ten Korean teenagers lived in a different city to their father most of the time (source, left: James Kim; CC BY-SA 2.0).

But it turns out that perhaps I underestimated that number: according to this recent survey of single women, effectively teenagers in this particular sense, for Koreans tend to live at home until marriage (although this is more for economic rather than the cultural reasons usually cited: see here and here), as many as one in eight Korean families have “at least one immediate family member living apart from the rest”. True, on the one hand that figure will include also university students living away from home, but then they are not common as I explain in those two posts linked to above, and on the other it wouldn’t contain the “international” lonely goose fathers I mention above either, so ultimately I’d wager that 90% or more of those one in eight immediate family members referred to would indeed be fathers working in different cities during the week.

There are some other interesting points made in that survey, but as it doesn’t mention the numbers and methodology (par for the course for most Korean newspapers unfortunately), then I’d take them with a grain of salt. But I think that the figures for geese families would be pretty consistent whatever the sample size.

*Since deleted sorry.