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Teenage Pregnancy in South Korea

April 11, 2013

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Ok, so this was a bit of a difficult topic for us to handle, because there’s so little to talk about. For starters, we’re not Korean teenaged girls. Kinda makes talking about it more difficult. Hell: we’re not even Korean! Also kind of an obstacle when it comes to talking about teenage pregnancy in South Korea. And, since Korean teenage pregnancy is SOOOOO low – just about one of the lowest in the world – what can we really say about it apart from talking about its lack? It’s a great thing, yes, that teenagers aren’t getting pregnant in Korea, but we’re not sure if the reasons for it is because of “wholesome” values, or for the purposes of saving themselves for marriage, or anything like that. Our guess as to why there’s so little teenaged pregnancy is because there’s so little opportunity for teenagers to have sexual relationships, primarily due to lack of free time and privacy. That’s our guess, at least. If anyone has any better ideas, please feel free to share them. We’re not fully convinced by our own explanation on the subject, love to see different standpoints on this topic.

Also, kind of like how we said that there’s very little crime in Korea, that’s not to say it doesn’t exist. Similarly, though there’s very little teenaged pregnancy in Korea compared to the US, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, either. It happens. And when it happens, from what we heard, it’s really quite difficult for the pregnant teenager. We spoke with Soo Zee about it, and she told us that there are centers for pregnant teenagers, because – in many situations – they’re kicked out of the house and aren’t offered any support from the family. We have no statistics on this, mind you, so we can’t say that ALL houses do this, but it happens enough to worth mentioning. There were also instances a few years ago in which pregnant teenagers were forced to drop out of high schools, which shocks us. Like we mentioned in our video, we had classes with pregnant girls in them, and they had a lot of support from the school, and we couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Side note: anyone see the movie Juno? You should see the South Korean version, “Jenny, Juno“, which was made long before the Ellen Page version :D

Back to the point, we’re only speaking here about the small glimpses that other people got from watching documentaries or reading the news on the matter. Our first-hand experience with the matter is non-existent, because teenage pregnancy in South Korea not that big of an issue. If you have more info on the matter, let us know in the comments, and maybe we can all together get a better understanding of what the situation’s like.

When we were planning for this TL;DR, we spoke with a few people about it, and the topic did generally turn to sexuality in Korea, which – FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE DON’T ASK US! We know so little about it, and can only tell you stories that other people told us, and that’d just be odd. “So, I knew a girl that _____” That’d be an awkward TL;DR. But I know that some of you Nasties take your name to heart, and probably will ask about it. PLOT TWIST: JUNSU IS SECRETLY A NASTY AND POSTS ON THE SITE.

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Teenage Pregnancy in South Korea

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  1. I appreciated the 1984 reference. :D

    4 years ago
  2. Nice comparison of the female reproductive to the Dodge Ram. But I have seen a better one. There is a comparison picture or the female reproductive to the Satanic Ram’s head. I think it better describes women, especially at their time of the month~…

    4 years ago
  3. Haven’t heard alot about teenage pregnancies in Korea either…
    HOWEVER! I have heard about teenage abortion though, they seem to certainly be more common… Can’t help but to think that these things are connected… I’m just saying…

    Also, I’d say the frequency of love motels and DVD bangs makes it easier. As soon as you “get enthused” so to speak, heck you don’t even need to go home, you’ll have like 10 viable options within a 2 minute walk…

    4 years ago
  4. Simon! Can you please do a hair tutorial one day? or maybe leave your hair down in a WANK hahaha

    4 years ago
  5. If you like British shows as well, you should then watch “Gavin & Stacey” – hilarious and nasty (in a good way)….there is the occasional random robot dancing….

    4 years ago
  6. As crazy as it sounds, teens in Korea may not have the knowledge of what to do when it comes to sex. I know that China is not Korea but sometimes social issues aren’t easy to see unless you’re on the ground and in the middle of it. When I was in Shanghai in 2005, it seemed to be a big problem getting children, teens, even youth in their 20s to use the public washrooms properly. Not because they were vandalizing or making messes on purpose, but because the kids were either a) from so poor of a place they had never seen a toilet before and were too embarrassed to ask or b)from such a rich one child only family that they had super special toilets that looked nothing like the public ones and also too embarrassed to ask. There is no one in between these two extremes in China. So, it could be similar in Korea with respect to sex vs. potty training.

    Also, those statistics may be warped by the fact that no teen would probably admit to being pregnant. Likely these girls are shipped off to a relative in the country (or the abortion clinic wherever that magical plastic surgery eye clinic is) until the situation has resolved itself, they wouldn’t be allowed to go to school so you wouldn’t see them.

    Cyber_3 – imagining the questions for the Korean version of “Sex with Sue” LOL!

    4 years ago
  7. omg… the comments here, elizabeth mefford, not junsu, elizabeth rocher and the others ~ lol, I had a lot of fun…

    4 years ago
  8. Ive always found it interesting that K-dramas seem to be so anti-sex/almost no sexual tension outside occasional comedy when it features characters below the age of 30… but characters over the age of 30 are often allowed to have sexual tension and that sort of story (with some even hinting at them spending the night together and stuff) and if they get married – Ive seen a few occasions where it is suddenly like… WOAH SEX EVERYWHERE! (but obviously without showing anything)

    4 years ago
    • whoa whoa whoa! I disagree… I think Kdramas have TONS of sexual tension… they just show very little sex related stuff. I actually think the showing of less makes it MORE sexy… you know? Like when I see sex scenes in Hollywood I’m like whatever… but when I see a couple hold hands or awkward kiss in a kdrama it’s much more exciting. well I don’t know if exciting is the right word.. I mean.. not THAT way… urrm

      4 years ago
      • Yeh – on second thought I think you are right. There is often tonnes of proper sexual tension… and I get what you mean by exciting – oooo, you so nasty ;)

        I think I meant more sex outright references/actions (eg talking about it, getting close to it, actually spending time on a bed together) that generally only occur with characters over the age of 30/maybe late 20s (probably cos at that age they are expected to be married/get married soon). I’m thinking of something like heartstrings (early 20s) compared with the greatest love or secret garden (over 30s) – but feel free to disagree :)

        4 years ago
        • ok, now we agree. :) I noticed that too… say Lie to Me…. whoa whoa… plenty going on there 감사합니다 강 지 환 whereas shows about younger people have more of the “oh my god are we gunna kiss?” freeze scenes.

          4 years ago
  9. Can you guys tell us the name of the documentary that Soo Zee mentioned? I would like to find it and watch it.

    4 years ago
  10. WHY YOU DISCUSS GUNS IN KOREA IS LEGAL

    4 years ago
  11. the sex scandal in korea what i mean thaT CELEBRITY HAVING SEX FOR CAREER BEING IDOL I LIKE THAT THIS TWO GUYS TALK ABOUT

    4 years ago
  12. dot

    haha actually I do. ^^

    4 years ago
    • dot

      there’s not many videos yet, but on blog there’s more – solleim team. :)

      4 years ago
      • I KNOW YOU! I like you on facebook ;P

        4 years ago
      • You are in Poland! Awesome! I’m Polish :)

        4 years ago
        • Yeah it was supposed to be a joke of sorts…… I guess just to recognize that you have something in common with Simon that few people have

          4 years ago
  13. Is it me or does it seem like the average age at which Koreans lose their virginity is much later than in North America? It seems with all the awkwardness, concern over skinship and the total lack of privacy that it is happening much later – and from the outside it looks like more people save themselves for marriage (not saying it is good or bad, just different). Am I off base? Is there decent access to birth control? If so, what kinds? Also, seems like vibrators would sell like hotcakes in that environment.

    4 years ago
    • Statistics say that Korean men don’t want to bother about safety (cuz it’s none of their concerns..) and don’t use condoms. Also there’s a general sentiment that taking pills is not good for your body so girls also don’t take oral pills. This was about 10 years ago and I think now young people talk about safe sex and stuff like that. About virginity, I think teenagers still think that losing it before 20 is pretty scandalous, as if it means throwing your future away. But after 20… the change of mind is very abrupt from what I hear but still is hard to believe cuz nobody talks about it.. I think it goes with “Just wait till I go to college” thing.

      4 years ago
  14. Agreed!

    4 years ago
  15. i hope there is linda lovelace ver in korea

    4 years ago
  16. I didn’t even go to UofT but I’ve been to Robarts Library…with my best friend to study…and even I have to say that maybe you went to the wrong floor for that first date with Martina? j/k ;)

    4 years ago
  17. They did a TL;DR about North Korea a few weeks ago. That might answer your question!

    4 years ago
  18. I watched a kdrama last year that centered around a teenage pregnancy. It was called Little Mom Scandal. I enjoyed it.

    4 years ago
  19. from an asian standpoint there’s actually A LOOOOT of boom-boom-jiggity-jiggity going around in korea and in schools as well. The reason people don’t like talking about it is bcuz yes, it’s taboo and u will get frowned upon amongst family (and possibly friends as well)? i do hear about this sometimes; when korean teens find out their pregnant, some will commit suicide and some will abandon their baby and run off somewhere. =( it’s pretty sad and the korean media never talks about these kinds of issues

    4 years ago
  20. There’s actually a korean drama all about teenage pregnancy and sexuality. I can’t remember what its called…but if you want me to find out I’ll be more than happy too ! I think its drama fever though :)
    Oh and about the lack of sensuality in dramas: I’ve recently noticed a sharp increase in the topic. A few years ago it would take like 16 episodes for the leads to even do the “no lips move kiss” but now we have dramas such as I do I do where in the very first episodes the two leads find themselves in bed together. Its even talked about more on variety shows ! like in Hwashin (yes the episode with g-dragon) they talked about reasons why couples break up, and someone suggested because of a lack of “connection” *hint hint wink wink*

    4 years ago
    • Oh please please can you find that drama that you’re talking about?!?!?!?

      4 years ago
    • That episode of Hwashin is hilarious. And when the topic of ‘special connection’ was brought up everybody just went silent. I laughed so hard when the camera zoomed in on G-Dragon and Daesung and they both had a look on their faces like ‘I am SO not going to open my mouth on this one’. You could feel the awkwardness through the screen. I get the feeling that they are slowly starting to become more relaxed about the topic over time, but it is still pretty awkward for most people.

      4 years ago
      • LOL I was so waiting to here g and d’s response, but they were so straight face the entire time, you could practically seem the sweat dripping down their necks from nerves !! lol

        4 years ago
        • I am sure they couldn’t say anything even if they wanted to because it might cause a scandal for them. But it also reminded me of a show that Seungri was on in a car ride, he called all of his hyungs, and GD commented that they always worried about him because they never knew what he would say. So during that awkward silence i kept wondering if GD was relieved he was with Daesung and not Seungri, because Seungri probably would have ‘done something worrisome’. I definitely need to go back and re-watch both of those videos.

          4 years ago
    • Perhaps the drama you’re thinking of is “Little Mom Scandal” starring Hwang Jung Eum. It’s on Drama Fever.

      4 years ago
  21. Doesn’t it also have to do with the “perception” of love teenagers (and even college students sometimes) have about love and relationships between men and women? You know, when even holding hands or a kiss on the cheek is a biiiiig gesture and it takes a lot of time to get there (not to mention the whole giving a letter to the one you love – aka confessing – being a huge deal)…so that may also play a huge influence on the lack of teenage pregnancies or teenage sex, in general.

    4 years ago
  22. I seriously had to check on teenage pregnancy in my own country after watching this. and apparently we’re on the bottom closer to korea and Japan, with approx a little above 6 pregnancies á 1000 teens. This kind of makes it interesting, as I’d say as we do get sex education through junior high, but not upper secondary (college). Also, there is a pretty big social help you could get for being an early mom, but my guess is because education is free (paid by taxes), most students stil feel like you a, either concentrate on your working career, b, really don’t want a child early and c, are very good at using none-pregnancy tools.

    Then again, our trend has been lately to get older and older first time mothers. My cousin, who was 24 when her first child was born, is considered quite young. Most mothers today wait until their early 30’s.

    4 years ago
  23. I guess it happens everywhere. During high school I didn’t know anyone who was pregnant, or if they were, they would just disappear. I know a few who got pregnant after they left high school, but not during. My school was pretty strict, though. Then again, I do live in Northern Ireland… which is where Game of Thrones is filmed! N.Ireland represeeent~! *woop*

    4 years ago
  24. Dodge… can’t be unseen.

    4 years ago
  25. On a (sort of) related note… i know you mentioned briefly about women smoking (or NOT) in Korea, I was wondering about said substances in general– smoking, drinking, drugs. From my understanding drinking is pretty much considered a-ok socially. How is smoking viewed? Do a lot of people smoke? Is it allowed inside restaurants etc? And what about drugs. It’s my (very) basic understanding that that’s a big no-no– atleast from a Kpop standpoint. or atleast the image of no drugs? What about regular people— is it very common?

    4 years ago
  26. Thanks for these awesome videos! So, I have a question for TLDR.

    Question: We’ve been getting a lot of serious questions lately, but I’ve been wondering about something kind of random and not at all serious, which I hope you answer. What are some trends and/or products from western culture that you have noticed gaining popularity in South Korea? Have you ever been surprised by the popularity or any crazy fads there? Thanks!

    4 years ago
  27. When i was in school people were having lots of sex. They were having sex in school because they couldn’t at home. under stairwells and bleachers, in closets and storage rooms, locker rooms, even outside like behind a tree. Miraculously these people never were caught by teachers. And not just in high school, tons of kids were getting it on in middle school. Like 75% who got pregnant were ones who purposely wanted to be teen moms (as told to me by themselves). I don’t have hate for teen parents, a lot of my friends were teen parents and are now graduating college this year.

    4 years ago
    • I went to Catholic school in New England in the U.S. Needless to say, no pregnant people walking around there… but my sister went to public school and I don’t think she knew anyone who got pregnant in highschool either?? I’ll have to ask her.

      4 years ago
  28. well… this reminded me of how i had to make a informational video about puberty for my biology class (DAMN YOU MR. HAGAR)… it was torture, i tell you… torture…

    4 years ago
  29. Whaaa, I own a Dodge. Never again lol, THANKS Simon. Teehee

    4 years ago
  30. Loved this one guys, great work as always! I have a friend in highschool in Korea, and she really did tell me they didn’t even have a chance to meet guys, let alone date them.
    Also, could you talk about how it was to adapt to food in Korea? I remember reading that Jay Park wasn’t able to eat korean food, and my friend also tells me that she is worried that when I go to visit her, it will happen to me too.
    P.S.: How’s the situation there? The news keep saying that foreigners are leaving Korea because of the war threat.

    4 years ago
  31. Question: I feel like now is the appropriate time to ask this, was I the only one who was made to put a condom on a rounders bat for sex ed? I wanna know if its happened before.
    Also, great episode today! Coming from the UK, we see some teenage pregnancy put not a crazy amount. In 6 years, I think only two girls in my school have been pregnant and I think one of them was the out come, unfortunately of rape, so… I don’t know. Maybe I live in a nice area? Because you always hear on the news over here that the rate of teenage pregnancy is increasing and I really can’t see it. It’s nice to see the contrast of, at least some, the reasons why Korea has a low teenage Pregnancy.

    4 years ago
    • I don’t even know what a rounders bat is… I went to Catholic school (U.S.) and our school nurse taught us sex ed by drawing “Sammy the Sperm” (complete with baseball cap) and “Edna the Egg” (I don’t remember what accessory she could have possibly had) on the blackboard. Then they scared us with pictures of STDs. And a deacon came in to tell us how Catholics aren’t supposed to have sex before marriage. But they still taught us about protection and such anyways.

      4 years ago
      • and what is said bat for, pray tell? ㅋㅋㅋ Besides condom application practice, that is…

        4 years ago
    • It was a little different for me, the class I was in had to use bananas. AWKWARD, but I will say this. I am glad they had the classes because it made us more aware. There is always the argument that since we have the classes that we are all just go out and have sex and get preggers, but seriously it wasn’t that bad. There were, like you, only a few girls in my high school who were pregnant. I think after everyone saw the pictures and descriptions of all the diseases a person could get, it kinda made everyone cold for the chance to ‘get jiggy with it’. LOL

      4 years ago
  32. Oh yes, Junsu definitely is one of the Nasties here. I’m sure he is an Ultra Mega Nasty!

    4 years ago
  33. Wow, I can’t remember a single pregnancy at my high school (midwest US). I always find shows about high school students where someone is inevitably pregnant rather unbelievable, but from hearing your comments and reading the ones posted here, it sounds like I was either from an unusual high school, or just oblivious. Probably the latter.

    4 years ago
  34. That is really sad, but I hope that he finds a loving home.

    4 years ago
  35. In my high school, almost a third of the Freshman girls came into high school pregnant, when I was a Senior (which was only two years ago). Meaning that they were 13 or so when they got pregnant originally. Yeah, there’s a LOT of free time in North America.

    I guess they don’t really talk about sex either in South Korea? That would also imply that bringing it up even if you DID have a boyfriend/girlfriend might be awkward cause of social stoof. I kind of wish it was like that in North America – so much of high school revolves around sex and dating and who got who pregnant it feels like.

    4 years ago
  36. Ian

    Haha, Pickering Represent! Yeah, St. Mary’s was infamous for pregnancies. Surprisingly being a Catholic school… Dunbarton, however was nothing like that to my knowledge. Very interesting TL;DR, guys! :D

    4 years ago
  37. I guess, in general, my stance on teenage pregnancy is…well nothing exact. I don’t look down on girls who had kids young at all. My parents were young when my eldest sibling was born. Both sets of grandparents were young when they started having kids. I know plenty of girls who are my age who now have kids of their own at 20/21. I’m surrounded by it and, in a way, only really exist because of it. I, personally, am in no way confident I could be a mother at this point in my life, but teens who get pregnant and are able to make the right decisions for that child and make things work, I admire them.

    In all honesty, I’m not shocked at all that the rates of teen pregnancy in South Korea are so low. From what I’ve noticed they’re much more conservative with such things. While here in the US discussions about sex and all that really aren’t hidden. I’ve had class discussions about sex during classes that weren’t even health or sex ed. or religion.

    4 years ago
    • Lol, so your high school was more the stereotypical Catholic school? I went to a private Catholic high school too and we had conversations go wrong often. Part of it could be that it was an all-girl school so we were more confortable with discussing those topics..

      But really, sheepskin condoms?
      Thats too funny!

      4 years ago
      • Yes, it was. I think it was mainly because we’re a predominantly religious (CATHOLIC) society and because we knew we’d get in some deep deep shiznit if we brought up sex-related topics. We could play around the issue with veiled innuendos and stuff but to say “sex” out loud in the classroom you’d have to be discussing gender and be ready to prove it if you wanted to stay in the class.

        Yeah, it’s amazing how you can drift from one topic to the next. The worst part is that we had a legit discussion over the merits or sheepskin versus latex, et cetera. The teacher even joined in. We never did learn about Shakespeare’s home life…..

        4 years ago
  38. Are you trolling us about Junsu? ;)

    4 years ago
    • But now I am going to go and tweet Jaejoong and Junsu because they really need to come to the EYK studio and do an interview…

      4 years ago
  39. ahahahahaha Mean Girls reference in the corner!!!!! “you will die”!!!!

    those lessons were awkward alright….
    i’m guessin’ they totally don’t have lessons on drugs and gang culture too right?

    4 years ago
  40. I’m actually online not too long after you post a video? :’D
    Oh, interesting topic though. Time to watch!!!

    P.S. Have I mentioned before that I love TL;DRs? It has gotten to the point that I’m more excited about watching them than KMM. Still love all segments, but these are just so interesting!

    4 years ago
    • I definitely like the TL;DR’s the best! This is how I became a fan of Simon and Martina in the first place a couple of years ago. It brought me to Kpop but only because I like to watch these crazy people… not really because of the music. Anyways great job on the TL;DR’s lately. They have been so interesting that I’m counting down the days to the next Wednesday!

      4 years ago
    • I’m pretty much interested in everything. I think if I had to pick a least it’d be the make-up tutorials. (Sorry Martina! I just can’t make-up! Like, at all :P )

      TL;DRs are set up perfectly for discussions. Take a topic, discuss it, open it up for the audience. It may sound weird, but I feel like I’m in an actual class watching these and then browsing through comments. There is always something somewhere that makes me stop and really think about the topic, which is probably why I love these so much.

      4 years ago