The unwed mother in Korea

I knew being an unwed mother in Korea was a bad thing. I guess I just didn't fully comprehend how alienating it was.

I just read THIS post from the blog, The Grand Narrative. This blogger usually blogs about Korean sexuality and gender inequality in popular culture and media in Korea. The posts are interesting and thought provoking.

This post was equally as interesting, and very educational. And it made me really sad.

It's full of quotes like this:

" “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."

The official government stance is that an unwed mother "has open and impulsive sexual values"?? If that is how these women are portrayed in buttoned-up formal government jargon, imagine how the rest of the population views them?

After reading this article, to say that unwed Korean women are looked down upon would be an understatement. It is shockingly different from how we consider unwed mothers here in the states. I am not saying that one culture is right and the other wrong. I'm just acknowledging the cultural divide between the two approaches.

And thinking about the women behind each of these decisions. I am not presuming that they are all heartbroken at their decision because that would be an assumption. Not every pregnant woman wants to raise the child they carry.

But some do. Many of the women in my family were unwed when they became pregnant, but they had a choice to raise the child, without the cultural stigma that Korean women face.

I can only imagine that some Korean mothers would make the same decision if they were able.

Which breaks my heart for them.

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


  1. The feelings are similar I believe in Taiwan where were adopting from. It just breaks my heart to imagine what these women feel and go through during such a vulnerable time.


  2. Thanks for the link to this blog. I was recently reading about how sexual abuse in South Korea is often treated quite leniently. There's a lot about the culture that's mystifying to me, and frankly, I think it must be tough to be a woman there, in some ways. My heart really aches for the single moms who feel like they don't have choices.


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