Posted February. 21, 2012 08:49,
Kang Seon-yeong, 36, is considered quitting her job since getting pregnant with her second child three months ago. She has a one-year old child.
Her parents and those of her husband cannot help her with childcare because they live far from her, and if she hires a housekeeper, most of Kang`s income will go to pay for the expense.
"When I think about opportunity costs, it`s better for me to be at home and raise the kids by myself," she said.
Like Kang, many working women in Korea juggle work and family. Certain government ministries have proposed bringing in foreign nannies to ease the childcare burden for Korean women, but the issue has not been publicly discussed yet.
A so-called long-term strategy agency, a body created to tackle long-term issues such as Korea`s low birth rate and rapidly aging population under the Strategy and Finance Ministry, has begun to seriously consider importing foreigners for childcare and housework.
"Importing foreign nannies can be a fundamental solution to the career break of the female workforce and low birth rate in the aging society," said Choi Gwang-hae, head of the agency. "As long as Korea is open to diversity and doesn`t discriminate against foreigners, it can be a good solution."
Korea has an estimated 200,000 housekeepers and 30-40 percent of them are ethnic Koreans from China. Live-in housekeepers earn 1.7 million (1,512 U.S. dollars) to 2 million won (1,779 dollars) per month if they are Koreans and 1.3 million (1,156 dollars) to 1.7 million (1,512 dollars) won if they are ethnic Koreans from China. Young moms have grown angry in the wake of requests for raises by ethnic Koreans from China.
Many Korean working moms age 20 to 40 usually quit working because of the high cost of childcare. Hong Kong, which has one of the world`s lowest birth rates, has around 300,000 Filipina and Indonesian nannies for working women. Choi formerly worked at the Korean consulate in Hong Kong.
Still, many in the Korean government disagree with bringing in foreign nannies. Once they are brought in, low income Koreans aged 40 to 60 in the housekeeper market will lose their jobs.
"It`s not right to lower the wages of less educated women in the mid-to-low income brackets to keep middle- or upper-class women in the labor market," said Min Hyeon-joo, an occupational science professor at Kyonggi University. "It is also doubtful that importing foreign nannies can lower the market price."