Under the Name of Woman
National holidays such as Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day) and Seollal (Lunar New Year’s Day) have a deep meaning in Korea. They are not only days for separated family members to get together and spend precious time talking about their lives, but they are times when Koreans honor their ancestors and hold ancestral rites. Today, along with positive thoughts towards the long tradition, people can be heard shouting, “Those are remnants of a patriarchy system that is clearly unfair and unequal.” According to the citizen participation campaign by Seoul Foundation of Women & Family, both men and women claim gender discrimination exists and it is most apparent on national holidays when only women are expected to take responsibility for domestic chores (53.3%). Men in the living room and women in the kitchen are clear images that come to mind. There is the old custom of blocking women from crossing certain thresholds during ancestor worship ceremonies even though they are the ones who do all the preparations. According to statistics from the Office of Court Administration, an average of 577 divorce applications were received the days before and after Seollal and Chuseok holidays in 2016. This number is nearly double the number of divorce applications filed on regular days.
Women bear the burden of holiday labor, prioritize their husband’s family over their own, and serve men. Each of these sexist aspects is the only driving force for keeping the national holidays alive. There would not be a single name sacrificed under an excuse of maintaining holiday and memorial ceremony. The holiday is no longer a synonym of joy, and homes are no longer harmonious. These old practices of treating women as outsiders of the family have resulted in newly coined words ‘holiday stress’ and ‘holiday strike’. Now, women pose as graded "F" as a daughter-in-law to escape the loop of male-centered corrupt practices of the past. Present day, Korean society is becoming more and more aware of the need for radical change. However, according to interviews with males from the survey, they claim that men are not allowed to do domestic chores together with women even though they show a willingness to do so. But further lip service cannot lead the change to chronic system. The argument is similar to having to clean up after a party. Reading other’s countenance about what you have to do is contrary to logic. Right now there is a need for change in attitudes, of shifting of responsibilities, and knowing you know that is yours. Only people who act on their words show commonsense and work towards the creation of an equal society, where people learn to respect and care for one another. Call the bluff if the way of taking a woman’s concessions and sacrifice for granted is your way. However, there will be no more “A” grade daughter-in-law for those of you.
1) Yoo Seungmok, “1st Place in Holiday Sex Discrimination Selected by Men and Women…“Present State That Leans Domestic Chores Only to Women””, Moneytoday, September 17, 2018
2) Choi Jongkwon, “”Why Only Women Work?” a Petition of Abolition ‘Chuseok’ Which Is Releaser of Holiday Stress”, JoongAng Ilbo, September 22, 2018