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`The Unmarriageable Generation`

Posted April. 03, 2012 01:08,   


Yoon Beom-gi, a 36-year-old journalist who graduated from Seoul National University, thought about setting up a matchmaking agency. He thought that a professional dating service, which helps Korean men who seek Ukrainian instead of Korean wives, could make money. When his girlfriend went to the apartment of Yoon`s friend, which cost 200 million won (177,620 U.S. dollars) under a lump-sum two-year lease called "jeonse" in Korean, she came to believe that marriage was impossible unless he got a similar apartment. Yoon eventually broke up with her. Marriage is also tough for his twin brother, who graduated from a community college and works as a contract worker for 1.2 million won (1,070 dollars) per month. For the first time in Korean history, the average Korean man in Seoul seems unable to marry a woman who is not from an underdeveloped country. Therefore, Yoon authored the book "The Unmarriageable Generation."

Many books target a generation with three "nos" -- no dating, no marriage and no job. A good example of comfort marketing is "You`re young because it`s painful” and another is the 2007 book “Generation 880,000 won (781.53 dollars),” which the author Woo Seok-hoon claims that the young need barricades and stones. A leftist, Woo said he would stop publishing the book after being disappointed at young people for lacking the confidence to fight even after reading his work. "The Unmarriageable Generation," however, claims that Woo`s solutions are wrong.

A job is a prerequisite for a man to go out on a date. The core of the solution is job creation. Leftists argue that contract workers should become regular workers. Yoon in "The Unmarriageable Generation" wrote, however, “Creating a world without contract workers means no hiring for companies." Kim Dae-ho, the head of the Social Design Institute who criticized the Bus of Hope charity movement, used the term "liberal disaster" when Kim Jin-sook, a former unionized employee of Hanjin Heavy Industries who was fired last year, staged a strike at the top of a crane. As long as globalization continues and China exists, contract workers will be the norm in Korea. More “plastic rice bowls,” referring to the same labor and same pay, should be created to give contract workers a better life.

If plenty of jobs exist where people can work more than two years as contractors, women can return to their career paths after two or three years of child rearing. If flexible working hours (i.e. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) become the norm, child care problems can be resolved. Yoon said leftists demand unrealistic policies such as a ban on contract workers or provision of free child care because they represent the top 10-20 percent of the population, not the socially marginalized. This means solely relying on their good will result in a country where men cannot get married.

Editorial Writer Kim Sun-deok (yuri@donga.com)