Significant changes have occurred in recent times to the structure and dynamics of family life in Korea, yet some of the old patterns persist. In terms of structure, Korean families are very similar to those of Western countries. But Koreans' attitudes differ greatly from those of Westerners because of the society's dualistic mentality. For instance, Korean society includes both progressive and conservative trends, coexisting with the Western and Asian mentalities; a dual class system with the emergence of the middle and the poor classes alongside a very powerful rich class; a division among the generations, as with individualism of the younger generations nurtured on Western culture and the traditional patriarchy of older generations; and a duality between family centered on the relationships of couples and children and society composed of collective families centered on adults. Finally, Korean society shows discrepancies between action and mindset. Although many Koreans have a Western mentality, their actions reflect a very conservative tendency, which grows even more pronounced with age (Chung 1999). The Korean family is in transition, and one result of these opposing forces is confusion.
Despite these changes, family laws and policies in Korea still represent the traditional value systems in many aspects. Countering this have been recent movements toward improving individual and women's rights. The family law reform in 1991, for example, included an asset partition claim right for women and visitation rights for noncustodial parents. Also, new family law entitles a divorced woman to a share of the couple's property based on the extent of her contribution to it. Furthermore, custody of the children, which used to be automatically awarded to the father upon divorce, will now be decided in court. Drastic changes in the property inheritance system include eliminating discrimination against daughters. When her husband dies, a childless widow will be entitled to half of the inheritance, with the other half going to the husband's parents. The law was abolished that prohibited a woman's remarriage until six months after the end of a former marriage. However, the new family law does not completely abolish the controversial head-of-the-family system, which Confucians lobbied to preserve. More political and legal support is needed for the welfare of elderly and children, as well as for types of families that remain in the minority, such as singles, homosexuals, and remarried couples.
Brandt, S. J. (1971). A Korean Village: Between Farm and Sea. Seoul: Prospect Heights.
Cha, J-S. (1978). A Study of Value Formation about Family Among College Students in Korea. Seoul: Research Institute of Human Development, Ehwa Woman's University.
Chang, K-S. (1997). "The Neo-Confucian Right and Family Policies in Korea: The Nuclear Family as an Ideological Construct." Economy and Society 1:22–42.
Cho, B. E., and Shin, H-Y. (1996). "State of Family Research and Theory." Marriage and Family Review 22:101–135.
Choi, C-M. (1989). "The Confusion of Moral Values in Contemporary Society: A Way to Overcome This Confusion for the Believer." In The Confusion in Ethics and Value in Contemporary Society and Possible Approaches to Redefinition. Seoul: Christian Academy.
Choi, J-S. (1964). "The Pre-Modern Family Consciousness in Modern Korea." Journal of Korean Academy 4:1–18.
Choi, J-S. (1971). "Traditional Value Consciousness of Korean Families." Asea Yungu 14:19–41.
Choi, J-S. (1982). Studies of Modern Families. Seoul: Iljisa.
Choi, S-J. (1996). "The Family and Ageing in Korea: A New Concern and Challenge." Ageing and Society 16:1–25.
Chung, H. (1997). "Parenting Stress and Marital Satisfaction among Dual-Earner Families." Journal of Korean Home Economics Association 35:151–162.
Chung, H., and Yoo, K. (2000). "Filial Piety and the New Generation in Korea." Paper presented at the 62nd Annual Conference of National Council of Family Relations, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Deuchler, M. (1983). "The Tradition: Women During the Yi Dynasty." In Korean Women: View from the Inner Room, ed. L. Kendall and M. Peterson. Cusing, ME: East Rock Press.
Ha, H-S, and D-S Kim. (1996). "A Study on the Relationships Between Role Conflict and Psychological Physical Distress of Dual-Earner Couples." Journal of the Korean Home Economics Association 34:309–326.
Han, S. B. (1981). Modern Buddhism and Social Science. Seoul: Dongkuk University Press.
Hong, Y. S. (1980). Buddhism and Folk Religion. Seoul: Dongkuk University Press.
Kim, J. M. (1992). "Patriarchal Disclosure and Power in Ritual and Daily Life: A Study of Damni Village in Korean's Honam Region." Ph.D. dissertation. Seoul: Seoul National University.
Kim, M. H. (1993). "Transformation of Family Ideology in Upper-Middle-Class Families in Urban South Korea." Ethnology 32:69–86.
Kim, S., and Kim, D. (1994). "An Effect of Cohesion and Adaptability on Role Conflicts of Dual Earner Couples." Journal of the Korean Home Economics Association 32:121–134.
Ko, J. J. (1994). "A Study on the Family Resources, the Level of Stress Recognition and Distress of Dual-Earner Families." Journal of the Korean Home Economics Association 32:97–116.
Korean Institute for Health and Social Affairs. (1998). Health and Welfare Indicators in Korea. Seoul: Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.
Korean National Statistical Office. (1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995). Population and Housing Census Report. Seoul: Korean National Statistical Office.
Korean National Statistical Office. (1982, 1987, 1992, 1997). Annual Report on the Vital Statistics. Seoul: Korean National Statistical Office.
Korean National Statistical Office. (1999, 2000). Social Indicators in Korea. Seoul: Korean National Statistical Office.
Korean National Statistical Office. (1999, 2000). Annual Report on Live Births and Deaths Statistics. Seoul: Korean National Statistical Office.
Korean National Statistical Office. (1999). Report on the Social Statistics Survey. Seoul: Korean National Statistical Office.
Korean National Statistical Office. (1999). Population Vital Statistics. Seoul: Korean National Statistical Office.
Korean Women's Development Center. (2000). Statistical Year Book on Women.
Kweon, S-I. (1998). "The Extended Family in Contemporary Korea: Changing Patterns of Co-residence." Korea Journal 38:178–209.
Larson, U.; Chung, W.; and Gupta, M. D. (1998). "Fertility and Son Preference in Korea." Population Studies 52:317–326.
Lee H-J. (1960). Family and Culture. Seoul: Minhosa.
Lee, H-S. (1997). "Factors of Changing in Mate Selection Process." Journal of the Korean Family Studies Association 9:1–28.
Lee, K-K. (1990). Korean Family and Religion. Seoul: Minumsa.
Lee, K-K. (1990). Structural Analysis of Korean Families. Seoul: Iljisa
Lee, K-Y. (1973). Buddhism and the Culture. Seoul: Korean Institute for Buddhism Research Press.
Leem, C. (1996). "A Qualitative Study on the Stepmother's Stress and Adaptation to Her Stepfamily." Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Korea University, Seoul.
Osgood, C. (1951). The Koreans and Their Culture. New York: Ronald Press.
Park, C., and Cho, N. (1995). "Consequences of a Son Preference in a Low-Fertility Society: Imbalance of the Sex Ratio at Birth in Korea." Population and Development Review 21:59–84.
Park, I. H., and Cho, L-J. (1995a). "Confucianism and the Korean Family." Journal of Comparative Family Studies 26:117–134.
Yoo, G.; Leem, C.; Chun, C.; and Chun, H. (1998). Another We, the Remarried Family: A Study on the Current State of Remarried Families and Development of Remarriage Preparation Program. Seoul: Korean Institute of Family Counseling and Education.
Yoon, M. (1964). Christianity and Korean Philosophy. Seoul: Hankukgidokgyoseohae.