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What has happened to the Korean family?

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By Mark Peterson

I had a chance to reflect on what it was that drew me to Korean Studies when I was interviewed for an EBS (Educational Broadcasting Service) program about four years ago. The interviewer, Jeong Gwanyong, asked me how I came to study Korea. I told him there were two factors primarily, at the outset: the Korean emphasis on the family and the striving for excellence in education. But now it appears the "love of family" is out the window in many homes.

A recent Pew Survey has revealed a shocking new picture of the Korean family. Of the 17 wealthy nations surveyed about "values", 15 of the 17 ranked family as their first concern. Korea's was "material wealth." Family was #3. And with reports of falling birthrates, falling marriage rates, rising divorce rates, the question is, what has happened to the Korean family?

Korea is still concerned with education, but unfortunately, that is often at the sacrifice of the family. The best example of the worst of this kind of practice is sending children off to study in boarding schools or sometimes with an ill-defined "auntie" in America or other English-speaking countries. The "migrating goose father" is one aspect of this sacrifice of family for education, meaning that the mother goes with the child to the foreign land. It's worse when the child is sent alone.

In our town, Provo, Utah, a college town, there are plenty of........

© The Korea Times

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