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Korea - Traditional Korean Families, Contemporary Korean Families, Women's Labor Force Participation, Conclusion

single parent family history family married children couple


For centuries, Korea was the Hermit Kingdom, "The Land of the Morning Calm" in Asia, a country that was characterized as closed to the outside world. Nevertheless, throughout Korea's early history, neighboring nations such as China, Mongolia, TABLE 1


TABLE 1
Korean households by type of family
[Percent]
  Nuclear family Extended family  
SOURCE: National Statistical Office, Annual Report on Vital Statistics (1982–1997).
Year Married couple Married with children Single parent with children Married couple with parents Married couple with parents and children Other family type
1955 63.5 30.7 2.5
1966 64.7 20.6 12.4
1970 5.4 55.5 10.6 1.4 17.4 9.7
1975 5.0 55.6 0.5 0.5 10.9 17.9
1980 6.5 57.4 0.6 0.6 10.6 14.8
1985 7.8 57.8 9.7 0.8 9.9 14.0
1990 9.4 58.0 8.7 0.9 9.4 13.8
1995 12.6 58.6 8.6 1.1 8.0 11.2

and Japan have invaded the country often. The twentieth century also brought Korea tremendous upheaval, such as the Japanese occupation (1910–1945), the Korean War (1950–1953), the partition of the country (1953–present), and the foreign-exchange crisis in 1997. Korea and the Korean family are both in a period of transition.

The concept of the contemporary Korean family dates from the 1960s, a period of transformation that affected the economic and political spheres, as well as cultural patterns and legal affairs. From the end of World War II until the 1960s, Korea experienced great social and economic difficulties such as the Korean war. After the 1960s, Korea began to industrialize rapidly, while also becoming more urban, and since then the Korean economy has grown faster than at any other time in its history. The standard of living has improved significantly: Per capita income rose from $87 in 1962 to $11,380 in 1996, although it dropped to $9,628 in 2000 after the financial crisis of 1997. Few countries have changed economically as rapidly as has Korea.

During these periods, the government made industrialization its top priority. This process brought about urbanization and changes in family type to nuclear families. As a result, the average household changed dramatically, especially the relationships among family members.


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