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[Opinion] Divorce for Half

Posted December. 29, 2003 23:11,   


The typical Korean adult has the opportunity to attend at least one or two wedding ceremonies every weekend. Sometimes attendance is required instead of sending only a wedding gift or money. Most invited guests do not realize that a high percent of newly wedded couples will separate soon and become a single, although they sincerely celebrate the new couples. Currently the annual trend is that 300,000 couples get married and approximately 150,000, almost half of newly wedded couples, get divorced. One cannot disregard the frequent incidents of newly weds not picking up their wedding pictures after coming back from their honeymoon due to an early break-up. .

Last year in Korea, the daily average number of couples marrying was 840 with the divorce numbers at 398 couples. The proportion of divorces compared to the marriage rate was be 47.4 percent and is expected to reach 50 percent in a short time. Only the U.S. (51 percent) and Sweden (48 percent) exceed the rate of our country, but Norway (44 percent), England (42 percent), Canada (38 percent), France (33 percent) and Germany (30 percent) are much behind us. Our high rate of divorce compared to other countries is shocking following the cases of high numbers on Caesarean sections, smoking, orphan export and car accidents. Couples divorcing within three years of marriage make up half of all divorces and a financial problem in a household as a cause of divorce has increased from two percent to 14 percent in the last ten years.

Divorce becomes the choice of half of married people. Unexpectedly, one often makes a mistake when talking about family and marriage with others. I asked to a mid-thirties attractive single woman having a professional job, “Aren’t you considering marrying soon?” I was embarrassed with her answer, “I did and came back,” she answered with little importance. When I received a wedding invitation from a divorced man, I remarked with well wishes, “Oh, good for you. A second marriage is not a defect any more these days.” He said, “Actually, it’s the third time.” It is becoming a new custom that asking about marriage status is bad manners for anyone.


The pattern of a classical family consisting of a first marriage couple and their children might become rare like a natural monument. Not only the recent enactment of Couple’s Day (May 21) but also a suggestion by the government for divorced couples’ being required to have a cooling-off period of three to six months, are the result of great consideration in order to reduce the rate of divorce. Of course, ending a marriage might be better than a miserable married life. However, the solemnity of a marriage vow should be respected and should not be overwhelmed by imprudent divorce. We live in a world where we have to pay our respect to couples who share happily married years together.

Myung Chul Oh an editorial writer oscar@donga.com