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Single Mothers in Korea

November 27, 2014

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So, this was a very challenging topic for us to tackle. Whenever we discuss serious issues in Korea, like Prostitution or Sexism, or anything that doesn’t paint Korea in the best light, then the comments can be a bit of a battlefield.

The worst thing that happens in these conversations: if you give ten statements, and nine of them are totally right, but one is off, then commenters will make it seem as if the entire argument is invalid. Think of the internet like tetris: all of your accomplishments disappear and only your mistakes are what people can see.

This topic was especially difficult to handle because it’s so taboo here, and generally misunderstood. We didn’t emphasize this enough in our video, but holy hell was it ever exceptionally maddening to read that the former head of the second biggest adoption agency in Korea said that adoption from Korea continues today because single mothers are promiscuous. There’s also not that much coverage on the topic of single motherhood in Korea. What we’re hoping, at least, is that we can all acknowledge that single mothers are treated poorly here compared to what we’re used to, and that very little support is offered for them. I hope we can all agree that this is fair to say, right?

One of the people here at the Eatyourkimchi Studio, Ellwyn – who helps out with the Speaker’s Corner segment – is actually a Korean adoptee. He has a lot to say about the topic, and has pointed us in the direction of many articles and resources.

The two most important ones to check out are KUMFA and Adoptee Solidarity Korea. While KUMFA is for single mothers, ASK is for Korean adoptees, and – as we discussed in the video – the two are really closely related. Both sites will be able to carry on the discussion about the topic in Korea better than we can. Important note: Laura Klunder, who is a representative of ASK, says that the ASK website is pretty out of date. If you want, you can message her here.

For a more complete reading list, here are a few articles from PRI.org, The New York Times, Jezebel, Korea JoongangDaily, and Groove Korea




You can also read an Interview here, or you can follow the blog of Shannon Heit, who is a Korean adoptee and PhD researcher who has been advocating on behalf of single mothers and comfort women. She’s posted most of her thoughts and research on her blog.

I’ll leave it at that. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, and – more importantly – we’d love to know what single motherhood is like in your country. Is it as stigmatized as it is here? Is there a concept of “dead beat dads” where you live? Let’s talk about it.

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Single Mothers in Korea

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  1. I know that in the United States, divorcee fathers absolutely have to pay child support or care for the child financially (by taking them into their house, etc.), because they risk going to jail. My father and his ex-wife divorced when my half brother was 10 y/o and my half sister was around 6, and he had to pay for their child support up until they turned 18. However, from what I learned in health class, if the couple is unmarried and the father is unidentified, the mother has to bare the burden of taking care of the child.

    Mothers in particular can receive a lot of help, you just need to know where to look. Single mothers can receive grants from the government, be placed in career training and job placement programs, receive scholarships and grants for tuition; with the help of TONS of non profit organizations they can find day cares to help take care of their children, help with feeding their children, find housing, etc. etc.

    Whew. I think I wrote enough ^-^
    But that’s all I know.

    5 years ago
  2. I am curious if a widow gets the same treatment or different, because of the fact that they was married but the husband had died?

    In other words that has to do with this video….

    My mom is full Korean and is divorced here in America. Where i live she actually found other divorced Korean moms and they all became friends. To me i think they felt wronged since they was originally from Korea and came to America to be with there husbands. My mom has told me if she knew she was going to end up getting divorced from my dad (who is american and was in the army stationed in Korea married my mom) she would have never left. To me i think she feels she thought she would be with him forever and when they got divorced she feels like she was taken from her family and i know deep down she feels wronged by my dad taking her far away from family and because she had to raise 3 kids she never got the chance or money to go and visit. She was also afraid to tell my grandmother in Korea she was divorced for afraid what she would say i guess.

    5 years ago
  3. Some of the things you said remind me of Ireland only a few decades ago. A lot of babies were taken away from their mothers because they weren’t married and there was a huge stigma attached if people discovered you were a single mother. I’m not sure if you guys have ever heard about the Magdalene laundries but that was basically worst case scenario. You were lucky if you got into any other house for “girls in trouble”.
    My mam’s friend was adopted as a baby. Her mother was forced into giving her away by the parish priest. Even years later (As in the 2000s), my mam’s friend looked for her mother but the church refused to give her any information. By the time she actually managed to find her, he mother had only recently died. I find it really horrible that they still hide it.
    Now there’s less of a stigma around young people having babies without being married. I know quite a few girls having babies without being married but I know less that are single. It’s uncommon but still normal. Usually though, single mothers are divorced which is a very long process.
    I hope things change for the better in Korea for single mothers. Let’s hope that things improve in other parts of the world too.

    5 years ago
  4. wow, so sad, so sad :/ i’m just speechless. In Lithuania is not a paradise, but compare with Korea is a flower. Here people earn less money, but moms are hundred times happy..

    5 years ago
  5. With all of these statistics in mind, I’m wondering what it would be like for someone who is currently looking to do work in the Asian world, Korea in particular, and plans to adopt at least once, probably from Korea. And then perhaps what it might be like for the child of a foreigner in Korea. That might be too specific a question, but it is something I’m heavily considering.

    5 years ago
  6. It’s really sad to see that this is how single mothers are treated. It takes two to make a baby. I don’t see the father taking responsibility in any way besides maybe pressuring her to get an abortion. I know this isn’t true for everyone but the fact that you can lose your job and be ostracized by people is horrible. Single motherhood isn’t celebrated in the US but there isn’t such a huge stigma anymore. A lot of women don’t think they can depend on the father so they work hard to move forward. The thing is they have family and friends who still support them. They can’t be fired for it,so that’s good. If fathers aren’t legally forced to pay child support most of them won’t. This is true even in the US. It’s hard getting the father to pay child support even when they’re supposed to. It’s sad to see single mothers don’t have a support system and I hope to see it change in the future.

    5 years ago
  7. Sil

    Very interesting subject I think you handled this very properly. This explains a little bit why every year the media do campaigns to promote adoption from koreans in Korea. I think it also has to do with the stigma that it was attached to the women who became pregnant of american soldiers after the Korean War; many of this soldier went back home without knowing (or really caring) they had a child with a korean woman and because they weren’t married, once they were born they were gave to adoption overseas.

    Here in Costa Rica there’s still an stigma attached to the single mother title mainly because the State still is a Confessional State, so usually the single mothers by law do have all the rights on their child (or children) but within the society; especially among old generations; they are not that well look, though new generations are much more accepting of this because many of us come from single parents do to divorce or teenage pregnancy. Actually the State in the 90’s implemented a law which allows the single mother to ask the father for alimony to help raised their child (it’s also valid for parents to children, children to parents, single fathers to mothers, grandchildren to grandparents or grandparents to grandchildren). The Judiciary then determines the amount of money the father has to give every month based on his salary, the mothers salary, and the amount of money the mother requires from the father to help her support the child.

    Unfortunately, this alimony in the resent years has been used by many people to seek for some kind of revenge against fathers who no longer want to stay in a sentimental relationship with the mother, causing another big social issue: overpopulated jails. When a parent isn’t able to pay for the alimony because maybe he lost his job or his salary has been cut short or the amount of money asked by the mother per month is an astronomical figure (this method is the most common since the other parent knows this person can’t possibly pay), by law they are send to jail until the can pay the alimony. But if they send them to jail, how can some of these men pay alimony if in jail they are not able to work and produce a salary? the more they stay imprisoned, the more months without paying they accumulated ,ergo, the debt increases more and the more they have to stay in jail. It has become a vicious circle.

    5 years ago
  8. Very fascinating TL;DR.

    My question is, how does birth control work in Korea? If there is such a terrible stigma for single mothers, is birth control (at least in the terms of female birth control) readily available? Is there a stigma to birth control?

    I’m from the states so there are many many different kinds of accepted families here now, but I know that before society was so accepting, people also snubbed their noses about birth control. Back in those days, if you took birth control you were perceived as being promiscuous.

    5 years ago
    • I was chatting with some Korean friends here in Korea the other day and we were talking a little about this topic. They told me that there is very poor or inadequate sex education in school and that contraception is not necessarily easily or cheaply available for young people. I know that in some countries, there are clinics where people can get free contraception. I’ve seen condoms for sale at the grocery store here, but I think there is still some stigma to going in and buying it if you are a teenager or young person. But that’s the extent of the conversation I had with them.

      5 years ago
  9. I was raised by a single mom pretty much my whole life because my dad died from cancer when I was 3. To see these sats upsets me. Single moms are amazing. My mom works her hardest every day for me and my brother. I don’t understand why in some countries they don’t get the respect they deserve. Single mom’s is two jobs in one. When I was growing up my mom did everything. She shoveled the snow, mowed the lawn, clean the house, make dinner, and do the laundry all while working a job and taking care of us.
    In America, single mom’s are treated pretty well in America at least from my experience. After my dad died the government gave my mom a decent amount of money to help her find a job and they also gave her social security for being a single mom. In America it is pretty common to see single moms. The only problem is that sometimes people expect to much out of my mom, like “why can you play with your kids more” or ” you can just buy this to help you”. Some people don’t understand how hard my mom works and how we struggle financially but that it ok because I know my mom is trying her best.

    5 years ago
  10. Well that’s the saddest TL;DR ever. But thanks for shedding light onto this issue; I had no idea about this. Also as a Korean adoptee, it provides context to why I was given up for adoption.

    5 years ago
  11. I’m pregnant and my baby boy’s father is Korean. I’m giving birth in a few days :) We are not married and although my boyfriend’s parents are both pastors and very religious, they did not insist on us getting married. I’m the first non-korean girl in the family, we are not married and I am catholic. They could have rejected me from day 1, but they accepted me very easily. My Korean friends keep telling me how lucky I am to have such understanding and accepting in-laws

    The fact that we live in Canada helped a lot because they cannot put pressure on us. But if we were in Korea, things would have been very different for sure.

    5 years ago
  12. One of my middle school students recently chose to do a presentation on single mothers, concluding that they need more support from the government. I knew at the time it was a risky topic for her, but this makes me even prouder of her for choosing the topic and having the opinion she did.

    What I find interesting is that here, when you say ‘single mother’, people’s minds seem to jump to ‘unwed’ mothers, particularly teens or women whose babies resulted from one night stands or affairs. Whereas back home (UK), I’d say ‘single mother’ strongly refers to divorced women, to such an extent that when it came up in class, I felt like it was an entirely different issue/definition and almost went to correct them before I realised that technically, ‘single mother’ could refer to many situations.

    5 years ago
    • Also, my boss was actually a single mother until she recently remarried. It was like some big, shameful secret when they announced her upcoming wedding and we weren’t allowed to mention it to the kids. Now I see why.

      5 years ago
  13. My sister was a teen single mother, but as I know it all the support from the society is the child-support from the father (not that her baby-daddy paid, ’cause he was an ass, and we didn’t want to risk him wanting to meet the kid if he paid) and the child-support from the goverment, that legally always goes to the mother, but gets paid even if you’re a couple or not. It’s all; hey, you popped out a baby? Here some money!

    Any person can also ask for a wellfare-support if you are under the norm of what you need moneywise, which kind of worked as that govemermentwellfare thing you described in your video, but probably gave more money, even to a couple that has no kids, that gets the least. If someone has kids, and are single, I think they get the most. My sister didn’t need to ask for it because my parents supported her, first she lived with us for the first year, and then when my grandma moved to a retirementhome she took over the apartment because legally dad owned it (because he had bought it for grandma). And now she is renting the house from my parents (with rent much lower than what it’s worth) because it was to big for my parents withouth us kids, and my sister got another kid with a dad that is in the picture. And dad gave her a job as his seceratary because she had to hop of school because of her kid!

    5 years ago
  14. Hello everyone! My name is Nastya? 24 years old. I’ll try to tell you about my own experience. Sorry for my bad English)
    I am Russian citizen. My mother is a single, divorce woman. She divorced when I was three years old.
    As from my perspective I never saw abnormal behavior from society. Yes it is difficult to be single with child, but mom has my grandma, grandfather, uncle, my godmother and friends. Nobody look at you bad because you single with child.
    Unfortunately my father never paid alimony, but mother never said to him to do this. She worked, my grandparents worked, we wasn’t poor fortunately.
    But yes there are some difficulties. For example, I work at school. Schools provide some students with free meals. These students are: large families with thee and more children, those who lost one of the parent or both of them, who are disabled or has parent who disabled. But we cannot provide food for single parents. If they want to eat, they should pay. Bad – yes, but that is the law for now.
    But our country normally refers to single mothers for sure (no talks behind your back, no loud talks, they are just normal people like everyone) .
    That is my opinion.
    Thanks for reading!

    5 years ago
  15. Nia

    I think this topic is really interesting. Here, in Spain, being a single/divorced mother stopped being a stigma about 20 something years ago. Traditionally, Spain is a very catholic country, so people saw it as sinful but the blame was placed only on the mother, something I find very unfair. One of my grandaunts was a single mother in the 1930s and back then it was very difficult, she had to move away because the father refused to acknowledge the baby as his.
    Nowadays, a court will take care of this type of situations and set a pension for the child, both for single and divorced mothers if they ask for it. The problem is that some fathers don’t pay and taking them to court doesn’t guarantee a result.

    5 years ago
  16. Let me start out by saying that I was genuinely shocked at the stats you discussed in your video and I applaud all the women living in Korea who choose to raise their child alone and endure the hardships that come with that.

    In India, the situation is quite similar. You don’t hear very often of women having and raising children out of wedlock, even in big metropolitan cities like Mumbai. There is a huge stigma attached to getting pregnant if you aren’t married and most of these women will get hasty abortions or, much like in Korea, give their children up for adoption. In most parts of India, especially rural India and people belonging to underprivileged part of urban society, the use of contraception is very little. So much so, that in an effort to control the fast growing population, the government routinely screens PSAs about use of condoms and birth control pills.

    If you’re an unmarried girl in India and you get pregnant, 99% of the time your family will a) be extremely angry and restrict your social life and b) force you to get an abortion. Many a time, they will even kick you out of the house. This will most often be the case if you choose to keep and raise your child.

    Unfortunately patriarchy is still deeply ingrained in most of Indian society. Rape-victim blaming, widow blaming and the stigma of birthing a girl as well as pregnancy out of wedlock is still so prevalent here.

    5 years ago
    • Also there is no government support (that I know of) for single mothers. For widows (now) there is plenty. My mother receives not only my father’s pension but also her own widow’s pension (my father was in the army). There are plenty of organisations that support divorcee women with children, victims of domestic abuse, victims of rape, but they most of the time, much like the Korean organisations you mentioned, encourage the single pregnant women to give up their children for adoption.

      5 years ago
    • To clarify, in the last line I meant stigma against pregnancy out of wedlock.

      5 years ago
  17. I actually have been hoping you’d mention this topic. I fall into a category of taboo in my country, a teen mother. But I’m also single. But considering I was already legally an adult when I had my child, things have been less cruel for me. I have several friends who had their child at 14 or 15. The looks they got and the horrible things that were said about them were disgusting. Dead beat dads are definitely prominent, at least from my experience. There are lots of ways for single mothers to get help here, rather than getting forced into giving their child up.
    I suppose Korea is much different because they’re probably very traditional about marriage and parenting.

    5 years ago
  18. Guilting and basically forcing mothers to give up their child just breaks my heart.

    5 years ago
  19. Thank you for this TL;DR. Single mothers’ situation in Korea is much worse than I thought!

    In Finland divorce is so common that no one cares. My big sister isn’t biologically daughter of my father, and it doesn’t bother anyone… Here the whole thing is anyway very different: After divorce, even if the father wants also to take care of the child that won’t necesseraly happen. If the mother wants to have the child all by herself (so she gets the money), the father has no chances. Usually it allthough ends up that the child lives every second weekend with his father (or something similar). The parents have also an ok relationship with each other usually after divorce.

    5 years ago
  20. Thank you so much for TL:DR-ing this topic. I have been thinking a lot about this as I have also been watching The Greatest Marriage and had some questions. You are so right that many countries could do so much better to help and support single mothers. There are even some countries where a woman can be killed if she is found pregnant out of wedlock. Such terrible violence against women breaks my heart and it also breaks my heart that South Korea is struggling to overcome these social gender problems. I do have hope though that slowly things will improve. That there is even a drama airing right now discussing these topics (even if it’s not done very well), it means that someone feels that it is important to talk about, and they are willing to pay money to produce something showing single motherhood. It’s a small step in the right direction. I was also talking with some Korean friends and they mentioned that it is socially difficult to adopt in Korea because families will often not view the adopted child as really part of the family. This is a problem in many societies though and not just Korea. Thank you again for sharing this information in a polite and informative way. In my home country, South Africa, there might not be as much stigma in some communities about being a single mother (half of the women in country are single mothers), there is still some. The cause of such high numbers of single mothers is rampant poverty, lack of education, migrant labour, and the devastating effects of Apartheid. After Apartheid ended, there was a lot done to improve pre and ante-natal care for women and children, but it still lags behind where it should be. And there is most definitely not enough government support for single mothers in South Africa either. They receive the equivalent of $29 a month in child support. While this might go a little further in the South African economy than in Korea or the US, it is most definitely a meagre sum. I really hope that communities and societies the world over will promote better support for single mothers, but also better sex education. There is a strong correlation between good sex education and the availability of free or affordable contraception, and lower instances of teen pregnancy. This also helps to reinforce male responsibility and not blame the woman for when pregnancy occurs. Of course this doesn’t answer the problem of single parenthood as adults, but from talking with some Koreans, they discussed teen pregnancy as a greater problem in Korea. Sorry, this comment has become much to long. Thank you again for sharing about the topic.

    5 years ago
  21. in america unless a man has a lot of money, is fortunate enough to get a sympathetic judge or live in one of the few areas with fair laws, everything is skewed toward the mother. in the case of my father he only got custody because his best friend was the chief of police and they got together and fabricated a suicide attempt on my mother’s part and lied about her to the judge.i have seen cases where a mother had the children removed by CPS (child protective services)and that was not considered in custody decisions. by and large if a mother wants custody the father has to prove that she is beating or molesting the children, there are even cases of the mother allowing a 3rd party to commit such abuse and STILL retaining custody over a suitable biological father. that is not to say dads never get custody, it does happen, but the vast majority of cases custody goes to the mother.

    5 years ago
  22. This makes me sad because it feels like instead of making provision of aid easy and accessible to single mothers, the government is making it more difficult for them to get by in order to practically steer these women into giving up their child for adoption. It almost feels like they see more value in having the kids sold through adoption, as if it were a business.

    I want to add that even if it is tricky posting these types of TLDRs, its worth it for us to get some contact with issues like these.

    5 years ago
    • It is likely that, of the money people pay for adoption (whether international or domestic), a cut of it goes to the government so that they have little rea$on to change their policies.

      5 years ago
      • I wouldn’t be surprised, and from the government’s perspective I also see the contribution it plays in SK’s economy.

        5 years ago
  23. I commented on YouTube as well but just wanted to say here – you guys handled this really well.

    5 years ago
  24. I find that so sad. Also it kind of smells with old prejudice, that it has to be the women’s fault for getting pregnant. *Sigh* But I’ve known a few single moms through out my life, this is mostly from Germany, although I know some in Norway since I live here.
    My mama’s best friend never got married I think, but when she had her daughter it was still GDR times, (Two German states) She lived in east Germany and as far as I know she got full support,
    full week long kindergarden program (she could literally stay the whole week). But also she could put her daughter in the kindergarfen when ever she needed. Since she was a nurse she had to work over night and unregular times, so her daughter could be in the kindergarden at all times. Later when she went to school there was a after school care, she could be there untill evening. As for after that in the Germany that is now, I remember it a bit but lots I know from my mother, Mom’s friend, she has two children the daughter was friends with my big sister, the son sometimes played with me and a friend. But anyway we were there a lot. Her children were already a
    bit bigger when she decided to devorce, she had it hard, I know she did. She got support, but not enough. She struggled worked a lot (nurse), but she had a lot of support from mom’s friend group.
    One of the saddest fates of a woman that devorced was also in that group, but she got devorced after we moved to Norway so we couldn’t really help her. But that one was coming a long time too. No one liked her Husband, he was a sometimes a drunk, but I never realized that and I played with her two sons a lot. But he simply
    wasn’t treating anyone in an okay manner. So when they devorced the boys first stayed with him, because there was all they knew they had lived there their whole life. But the older one moved out pretty soon and the younger brother is like his mom, he wants to be there for his father since he has cancer now. But he wisits his mother a lot. Now she has almost nothing, she had to sell her car and move to her work, while she still tries to give her sons a place to come home to if they need.It’s one of the saddest things I know of.
    In Norway as far as I have understood, you’re really screwed if you don’t get the kid(s), I know several cases of fathers that almost live in a shack with good jobs and that, but paying for their kids. Divorce is not that common as far as I have realized here, but it’s not a taboo. People think that these are tough, both moms and dads.

    5 years ago
  25. That you can talk about both the good and the bad things about Korea speak a lot to you as people of integrity. As much as you love Korea, no country is absolute perfection.

    5 years ago
  26. Very liberal in Australia – what ever goes, and quite a bit of support trying to keep teens in school etc.
    There wouldn’t be the need for so many abortions if contraception was freely available! I remember watching your teen pregnancy vid saying that it was unusual, I remember thinking teens are teens the world over and that it just wasn’t talked about and the situation just made to “go away”
    But the situation in Korean now is the same as the UK and Au up to 70’s and 80’s. It was only 2013 that the then Prime Minister apologised for the forced adoptions happening in Au from the 50’s to the 70s’ And the scandal about the Irish unwed mothers home where they found old water tanks full of children bones – (that’s a scandal not some kpop star walking with a girl). and single mums unwed or divorced were stigmatised and pushed into poverty in the west up until the late 70’s and 80’s I think something must have changed then, a shift in thinking?
    As for south Korea ( god knows what happens in the North) its dealt with in accordance with current thinking and women on the whole are regarded as lesser beings (seeing that S Korea only let its Citizens freely travel Internationally in the late 80’s ) Its come a long way.
    Korea is only doing now what UK & Au were doing ONLY 30 odd years ago, makes you grateful to, and think of all the women (and odd man) who stood up and said thats not right, lets change this!
    Korea might take views on women and single mothers a bit longer to change because of the family structure and lingering Confucianism, but it will slowly change. Just feel compassion for the women dealing with it now.

    5 years ago
  27. Interesting TL;DR. I read an article about this a while back and i’m thankful I live in a country (Australia) where being a single parent is accepted within society. I was raised in a single parent family and didn’t receive as much stigma as what was discussed in the video. Any issues that I did have were probably the size of a grain of rice in comparison. The biggest problem i’d have would’ve been when I was in primary school and kids would ask me, “Why don’t you talk about your dad..” or “I’ve never seen your dad. Where is he?”. When I told them he’d left they just felt sympathetic which sort of ticked me off but was okay with it because they cared at least.

    Moving on I think the Australian Government offers a Single Parents benefit with a maximum fortnightly payment of approximately $700 which is about 679,549₩ so support from the government is also very fair in comparison. I would also say that the concept of “deadbeat dads” and even “deadbeat mothers” is very apparent in Australia. Although some try to do the right thing by their children and provide child support others do avoid paying which is pretty sad.

    Anyways thankyou for the insightful video, and I Hope you guys continue the good work! :)

    5 years ago
  28. That’s really sad to hear the stigma against single mothers. My mum raised me (a baby) and my brother (an over-active 10 year old) by herself after a getting out of a bad marriage. In the UK, the government will support anyone who needs financial help and in fact, they only stop giving child tax credits when the children are grown up (I was 19 when support stopped) the minimum is about $70 a month, but it can be much higher so it goes a long way to helping people. I think every family is entitled to this support regardless of income or marital status.

    Fathers are also supposed to pay child maintenance, but I’m not sure if it’s mandatory or not. We also have the stigma of “deadbeat” dads, but we call them “absent” fathers, and they are definitely looked down upon more than single mothers.

    I hope Korean single mothers can get more support in future. I think people often overestimate the influence of two parents as opposed to one (even today in the UK single mothers and absent fathers are blamed by some for social problems) but I had a fantastic childhood, and I think if single Korean mothers are given the right support, then there need not be any worry over the child’s or mother’s wellbeing. But I think that would mean first changing the mindset about single mothers being promiscuous or “bad”, and unfortunately it’s difficult to change how an entire society views a group of people.

    Great TL;DR though! Even if it was disheartening :/

    5 years ago
  29. In Norway there a lot of different support things you can get as a single parent. I read about it on an official norwegian governmental site.
    Single parents can get;
    Transitional wellfare, which you can apply for if you are unable to provide for yourself, because of the care of your child. You can get up to 27000$ USD a year.

    Extended Child Wellfare, where you will get double childcare wellfare, which cover base expenses of having a child.

    Supervision wellfare, which covers 64% of the cost of having a child in daycare, meaning you have to pay the remaining 36% yourself.

    Educational wellfare, which is something you can get, if you need education in order to provide for yourself, and your child.

    You can also get support to move, if you need to do so in order to get a job.

    Norway is Super expensive, and even with these support systems, having enough money is difficult for single parents.

    Also, I dont think there is a stigma against single parents here. Not anymore. I have a friend who had a single mother, and she wasnt bugged or bothered in school because of that. As long as you do well, people dont care what you do. If you need help, there is a support system in place to help.

    5 years ago
    • I only mentioned things specific to single parents. Regular parental wellfare is in addition to this, of course.

      5 years ago
  30. Ok like I promise on my youtube comment I came here to let you guys know how things work out on my country, Costa Rica in Central America.
    First like I told on the comment on yt, im the daughter of teen parents, my mom was 18 when she had me and my dad turned 18 just 2 days after I was born. Back when i was born (1989) well the deal was you got her pregnant you need to marry… Since my country has a strong family morals, besides like i mentioned my mom wad raised by her older sisters since both of her parents left her and my 6 aunts when my mom was just 5 years old.My mom decided to keep me and raise me even if she only had a high school degree (my parents did end up married but my dad left us some time ago, so she did end up raising me like a single mom) so you guys may understand this topic hit me really close to home and i did end up crying at the situation this girls encounter, even if they want to keep their kids.
    Here in Costa Rica single moms actually have almost always the support of their families, is like a giving thing. Sure they will lash out at them for the 1st months of the pregnancy but they will end up supporting them at the end.
    Now for the goverment side, both the mom for all her pregnancy and every child born until he turns 12 is entitled to health ensure free of charge (with all vaccines, med checkups, eye dr, dentist, u name it). Also if they are below the poverty line, we have places that offer 3 meals a day for the kids and give some basic food for the families (milk, rice, beans) but this is not a benefit that everyone gets, like the health insurance.also here education is free and obligatory until 11th grade (last year of highschool).
    Now for the dad side, the mom can register the child as soon as he/she is born with the dad last name and ask for child support, if the dad denies the paternity, they have to get a mandatory DNA test to prove the paternity. If the test test positive or if the dad recognices his parental rights, then the child is entitled to child support.
    The dad gets two choices: either they agree with an amount of money with the mom or the mom can suit the dad in a special tribunal that especialices in child support lawsuits and then the judge based on the dads income and the childs necesities will rule the amount of money the child is entitled to receive each month.
    If the dad tries to not give the money or if stops at any given time, they go to jail, period. They cant get out until they pay off and also if the child support was order by a judge, if they want to leave the country they need for.the mom to sign the concent and deposit a garanty of 6 times the amount of child support in case they run away.
    Another thing this child.support is maintened until the kid turns 18 (legal age) or 25 (if they went to university and they finish their major). The amount of child support increases according the raise in salaries that the goverment establishes to be for that year.
    So in a few words, here single moms have a lot of support.
    Of course, this doesnt always work out and there are a few places that help out single moms (especially teen moms that got pregnant under rather difficult circunstances, i.e: being sexually asaulted by family members or close relatives, which sadly happens very often) by letting them stay at their facilities and teaching them a trade so they can support themselves.

    Lol i feel my comment is a TlDR by itself xD sorry guys, but i really wanted to show the contrast of my country (that many people call third world country or in ways of develpment) vrs Korea.
    I really want to thank you guys again for discussion this topic, people need to know that all countries have their ugly sides and that you cannot simply turn your eye the other way. If you are interest in getting the know another culture, you need to see the good and the bad.
    Also i really want to apologize if i made some.terrible spealling or grammar mistakes (eng is not my 1st languages and is 5am here and i havent slept a wink)
    And thank you for opening up this topic for us fellow nasties to talk!

    5 years ago
    • Sil

      oh wow otra tica!! todo bien? jaja Well you are very right on your comment but I can tell you from experience that the amount of support that the single mother gets from their families changes from household to household. Old generations are still very non-accepting of single mothers, and even if you think about it a little bit more the fact that they made your parents get married back then kinda shows this fact.
      Also since we live in the same country, unfortunately, this alimony in the resent years has been used by many people to seek for some kind of revenge against fathers who no longer want to stay in a sentimental relationship with the mother, causing another big social issue: overpopulated jails. When a parent isn’t able to pay for the alimony because maybe he lost his job or his salary has been cut short or the amount of money asked by the mother per month is an astronomical figure (let’s leave out the possibility that some folks just don’t pay because they don’t want to), by law they are send to jail until the can pay the alimony. But if they send them to jail, how can some of these men pay alimony if in jail they are not able to work and produce a salary? the more they stay imprisoned, the more months without paying they accumulated ,ergo, the debt increases more and the more they have to stay in jail. It has become a vicious circle.
      Thanks for sharing your experience!!

      5 years ago
    • In Mexico it’s kinda similar to your situation. I don’t really have that much info about this so I could be wrong about what I say, and if I am sorry and please correct me, but in Mexico teen pregnancies are because of promiscuity and lack of education regarding sex, protection and its diseases. Single moms are mainly because the guy just leaves the girl alone, but she has the balls to raise the kid by herself. There is also the fact that Mexico is a religious country, so you are also pretty much expected to raise the kid and for the family to help out. Abortion is pretty much banned except for a couple of states, so you either give up the kid for adoption or raise the baby. I’m not sure if there are any support from the government and in what form.
      I have a friend that got pregnant with a friend I didn’t even know she was interested, let alone sleeping with, but anyways, I must admit that I was pretty surprised and a little disappointed in her, not because of getting pregnant, but because she came from a similar situation, was living with her grandparents and had them pay for her university, which was very expensive since she was studying gastronomy. I was kind of expecting her to be more careful, eventhough I knew she liked to party. But anyways, you can see I’m already stigmatizing her, but I was happy to see she was being responsible and decided to take care of the child. She was also lucky that the guy was a good person and has stuck with her since then, but just as partners, they aren’t married as far as I know and now they are doing very well. Kid is doing pretty well.
      So yeah, nowadays there are so many teen pregnancies and single moms that their is now a pride in being single mom, but still, many things need to be improven.

      5 years ago
    • Meliii *hug* thanks for sharing your story! Costa Rica is pretty cool, I can confirm that! but I know there is a lot of pressure to cut benefits and privatise social services, let’s hope the government does the right thing

      5 years ago
      • Hugs back! I know… they are putting so much pressure in budget cuts im dead worried

        5 years ago
  31. Thanks for brining things like this up EYK! I too am an adopted korean, although from what I know, I was not adopted for single parent reasons, but mainly old age or poverty (born 1988 btw).

    So, I cannot say I have looked much into the topic of single parents in Korea. I still want to point out that being adopted in Korea, while obviously is a means of money (sadly), is also handled really well. International adoption from korea is well cared for, and as adopted I was given background information about my parents and retain rights to know about my original family by phone calls. Should I ever want to revisit, they will also help me and if both parties agree, I could also visit my birth family.

    I have cousins from Brazil, and by knowing them, I’ve learnt that adoption is as varied as any type of rights. Both my cousins left brazil with no knowledge of their former families, and had to leave the country slightly secretively. Mind you, things have improved since the 80’s, but there are still countries where adoption is still seen as child smuggling, or even highly illegal, and not all modern nations share the view that children should have rights for a good home. After all, I know Japan has yet to lagalize adoption, something the country could benefit from as well seeing as there are many orphanages in Japan, and those kids don’t have it too easy.

    Should note as well that the main reason S.Korea began adoption came from the consequences of the Korean War. Sadly, some asian countries with deep traditions with families and family ties need something major to shake the foundations of those traditions. China, where I am now, started adoption as well because the One-Child regulation caused mass murder of unborn baby girls in the 70’s.

    5 years ago
    • “International adoption from korea is well cared for, and as adopted I was given background information about my parents…”

      I too was given background information about my birth parents: I was born illegitimately to a single mother in 1988. She and my birth father did not have a stable relationship and were not planning to get married (much to the chagrin of their parents), so she decided to give me up for adoption.

      Except the reality is that the adoption agency in Korea falsified all of this information to make me and thousands of other ‘orphans’ more appealing to potential adoptive families abroad.

      After a recent birth family search, I discovered that my parents were actually (and still are) happily married with two daughters. I was given up because they couldn’t afford another child. And recognize that my case is exceptional; birth family searches are often dead-end or incorrect, and it’s quite rare to find an intact family who wants to have a relationship with you.

      I beg you to be more informed about international adoption in Korea, *especially* considering you are a product of it. I recommend you start by searching “Jane Trenka”, Korean adoptee and activist. Maybe your adoption story has been neat and tidy, but for many it is a journey of objectification, uncertainty, anticipation, and deceit. There’s no reason Korea should continue to be profiting millions of dollars by shaming and tearing apart families.

      5 years ago
  32. I know people who are single mothers: classmates, my grandmother, aunts, and even my brother’s girlfriend. There is the stigma of the “promiscuous” woman who is using her children, these men, and the government as a way to get “free” money. I feel horrible that I was one of those people who’d look at a young woman with a child and then judge her for something that I don’t even know what’s going on in her life. We also have the whole deadbeat dad thing also but really it surprises me when single dads get a lot of praise and yet single mothers get condemned.
    I know here, in Hawaii, single parents who do get help and it is becoming more of the societal norm to not come from the “atypical family”. I also know with foster and adoption parents also get money to help with taking care of the child, although from what I’ve heard on the news it’s not enough. However even here in the US we have A LOT more work to do.
    What you’ve guys said about what’s going on in South Korea is unacceptable. Really, you’re going to force a woman into adoption or abortion? And then her family’s income is added with her income to see if she falls under the poverty line? Give me a break, it’s utter bullish. Give her the compensation and stop sitting on your high horse.

    5 years ago
  33. Wow, this was a super fascinating TLDR. Thank you so much for the work you put into it and for approaching it in such a thoughtful way. I think Korea is in an interesting position as it’s straddling being at the forefront of change in many areas but still retains some very old school traditional cultural view points in other areas. Social change on a national level is never easy – particularly when the world (and the internet) can see what’s going on and has something to say about it. I am so encouraged that the organisations you linked to were Korean based and look like they are doing some really awesome things.

    In terms of how single parents are viewed here in Australia… I don’t think there is as much of a negative connotation of being a single parent. Rather I think often the issue is single parents that become welfare dependent with no intention of doing anything else. I come from an area with one of highest teenage pregnancy rates in Australia and those kids often end up single parents on welfare, either with no way of getting off welfare even if they wanted to or not wanting to get a job at all.

    I grew up in a single parent family and we did alright. Money was definitely tight as Mum struggled to find work once we were in school but that was more because of how long she had been away from the workforce rather than discrimination.

    Whoa great topic guys… and I hope the Netizens aren’t too harsh…

    5 years ago
  34. I think people need this kind of topic. Especially if they are the angry ones. This is a very good way to actually start a conversation about it and perhaps it will lead to something good in the end. As we say in Sweden : många beckar små which kinda means: rivers gather together.

    And to answer the questions. Here I’ve pretty much never come accross a stigma against a pregnant women.

    But boy to we crack down on deadbeat dads. What Korea do to single women we do to deadbeat dad. But we don’t really have many deadbeat dads either…. correct me if I’m wrong fellow swedes!
    Peace ☺

    5 years ago
  35. As a single mother in Australia, although I struggle financially because I’m studying while raising two children alone, I do appreciate the resources and support available to me. There is a parenting payment available, and subsidised childcare, which helps. There isn’t really the level of stigma that women in South Korea face, but there are plenty of people who have opinions on exactly what kind of person a single mother is. My relationship was toxic so I decided to end it, which in the minds of some somehow equates to me being a lazy, alcoholic, promiscuous, partying drug-addict. People who actually know me are very supportive, though, and know that I’m the complete opposite of this (anti-smoking/drugs teetotaller nerd who prefers to snuggle with my children and a good book than to go out and run wild). But I am incredibly grateful for the support here, and hope that that same support will become available to all single mothers worldwide.

    5 years ago
    • Hang in there! Im sure you are a great mother and you are doing your best for your kids.
      As a proud girl of a divorced mom, i know the decisions you made were for looking for a better future for you and your kids :)

      5 years ago
  36. I don’t remember if it was an EYK thing or not since it was some time ago now, but I recall reading something last year about an alarming number of Korean babies being given up for adoption. One guy in Seoul operates something called a “baby box”, which is basically where mothers can anonymously drop off their unwanted babies and he takes care of them. Similarly, I read another article about an orphanage in the outskirts of Seoul who got little to no government assistance. They couldn’t even afford to heat more than 1 room at a time. They basically lived off of donations. It broke my heart. I donated a rather large chunk of money to the organization because I believe every child should have the best chance they can at life.

    I understand that there are other countries around the world with systems just as bad or worse than Korea, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s terrible what these people do to single mothers. And to not hold the father accountable? That makes me so mad. “Knocked this girl up but lol doesn’t matter cuz I get off scot-free.” My biological father abandoned my mother when she was pregnant with me (they were married at the time). She raised me alone for nearly 3 years before she eventually re-married. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that must have been.

    I have to stop before I start crying.

    5 years ago
    • you can drop off babies at hospitals and fire station in the us. might be churches to. not sure on that

      5 years ago
    • Yeah, the Baby Box is a thing. We had that in our notes as well, but didn’t have time to focus on it. I think that could be handled for a separate video on adoption, though adoption and single motherhood are very closely tied here.

      5 years ago
      • I just want to mention something about the Baby Boxes: when I was in Japan, taking a society class, we talked about single moms and how hospitals now have baby boxes. These “drop offs” are actually very important – if you haven’t heard the most recent cause of baby abandonment in Sydney, look at all the cases in China and India, where female infanticide is high. Sometimes you can’t get an abortion or face stigma or orphanages are full, so many women simply leave their babies in ditches, trash bins, alleys, etc. to die. These boxes offer the child a chance at life while making women feel safe, as their identity will remain anonymous. I’m not saying it is a good thing, but it is a solution for that particular problem of abandonment.

        5 years ago
      • Oh good Lord… I wish you guys well on an adoption video. I too was adopted from Korea, and from Korean adoption meetings, I’ve heard about so many different stories of adoption that I don’t know what to think of it anymore. I guess I’ll let you handle the statistics though, haven’t checked those in years (and I mean years).

        5 years ago
      • OH I remember the Baby Box too… *literally cries*

        Simon and Martina I would love a TLDR on adoption, I have a couple of friends who were adopted from Korea and I know they (and I!) would be super interested.

        5 years ago
  37. I’m a Chinese person in Canada with a Hong Kong born mom. I believe my mom has a stigma against them. I never really ask about the details, but when I told her I was visiting a friend and his wife who was about to give birth on time, my mom immediately asked if my friend’s wife were single. I had to clarify that my friend was older than me and my close friends, and they are married. I also had to clarify that the wife is not promiscuous, the friend has a job and apartment to take care of his wife, etc.

    But she is alright with divorces. I think it might be that to her, being a single woman with no husband to support you when you are about to give birth, and about to have a kid before stability and wedlock is awful. I think to her, it’s the girls problem that shes promiscuous, and doesnt practice sex protection. She has harped on me about making sure I get my bf to use protection.

    I have a cousin that got pregnant in like late college (maybe) and pretty much performed a shotgun marriage to the man. My mom, as much as she still loves her neice, still stigmatizes her in a way that she says that it was my cousin’s fault for getting pregnant and marrying an arse.

    5 years ago
  38. Thank you for this TLDR. This was a real eye opener. I appreciate the work you put into this.

    5 years ago
    • Thank you. We’re nervous about the anger it’ll incite, but – hell – we’re getting used to netizens now :D Still, they’re unpleasant to deal with…

      5 years ago
      • You are some of the hardest working bloggers/vloggers out there. I so appreciate what you more than I could ever put into words. Keep up the good work.

        5 years ago
        • ** I so appreciate what you do more than I could ever put into words

          5 years ago
  39. You should do a TL;DR on how Korean Adoptees feel about returning to “The Motherland”. I’m a Korean adoptee and have been back twice. Once when I was a teenager, 16, and once when I was 23. I finally met my biological family after YEARS of the adoption agency lying to my family and me. The orphanage I came from was Catholic, so they can’t lie!, and was very happy to supply me with the information, even though it was “against the law” since I was still a minor.

    Going back as adult, it was difficult. My biological sister didn’t care for me and told me to my face how much she “hated” me. I think the issue was the different lives we lived but any life can be difficult, ti is how you make yourself out as an adult and apply your “hard knock life” to the future. Our parents are divorced, another stigma, and our mother is remarried. Our father isn’t and still a smoker and alcoholic. He lived in government housing for YEARS but finally his health has made it where he had to move with my sister, since she has a college degree, not university, and makes good money to support him.

    Not easy talking to them since they don’t speak much English/Engrish, so I don’t have much contact with them. But hey, language and culture barriers aside, I think it’s good to find out what you want.

    Single mothers in Korea need support and help to bring their baby up in a good environment. Either for the baby to put into adoption or for the mother to get help until she is able to care for the baby without assistance.

    5 years ago
    • I think there are many Korean Adoptees like us that watch EYKs videos. I think we are all anticipating a TL;DR on the topic. I think it would be great if they could partner up with one of the many Summer camps for Korean Adoptees during the summer and perhaps even showcase what a Korean Adoptee meetup is like.

      5 years ago
  40. It’s just… so sad. In France, there is protection. But Korea’s take on this is… just so very, very sad.

    Sending hugs and my best wishes to all those women and those poor children :(

    5 years ago