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Korean Divorce Rate Falls

Posted October. 26, 2005 07:33,   


Divorce suits have declined for three consecutive years.

An average of 40,824 divorce suits (112 cases a day) was filed with courts across the country last year, according to the 2005 judicial yearbook. The recently released yearbook is statistical data for 2004 compiled by the Office of Court Administration.

The figure has dropped for three years in a row, from 47,500 in 2002 (130 a day), and 46,008 in 2003 (126 a day).

The number of divorce suits was about 28,000 in 1991, exceeded 40,000 in 1999, peaked at 49,380 in 2001 (135 per day), and has since been on the decrease.

Among the divorce suits filed last year, 27,170 cases reported reasons for the divorce. Out of those cases, 11.7 percent of the couples lived together for less than a year, 16.4 percent for less than two years, and 17.7 percent for less than three years. In short, 45.8 percent of the couples decided to separate after living together for less than three years.

Couples that lived together for less than 3 years accounted for more than half the total divorced couples, with 42.8 percent in 2000, 46.6 percent in 2001, 49.5 percent in 2002, and 46.2 percent in 2003. The numbers seem to reflect an early divorce trend in Korea.

“Infidelity” topped the list of the reasons for divorce with 46.4 percent. It was followed by “poor treatment from the spouse”(27.3 percent), “negligence in supporting the family”(8.0 percent), and “poor treatment of his or her parents”(6.1 percent).

Those in their 30s made up the largest share of divorced couples. For men, those in their 30s accounted for 46.2 percent, those in their 40s accounted for 22.9 percent, and those in their 20s made up 21.2 percent. For women, 30 somethings accounted for 40.8 percent, 20-somethings for 33.7 percent, and 40-somethings for 19.1 percent.

At divorce, 36.6 percent of couples had a child, 36.5 percent had 2 children, 15 percent had none, and 9.4 percent had three children.

In the meantime, the number of divorces by agreement increased from 115,330 in 2000, to 128,715 in 2001, to 138,314 in 2002, to 160,288 in 2003. But the number dropped to 128,887 last year for the first time. Divorce by agreement refers to a procedure where a couple does not file a divorce suit but agrees to divorce before a judge.

“A part of the reason for the decreasing number of divorce suits and divorces by agreement is that people have wanted to wait until the revisions to the Civil Law will be completed, like the elimination of the head of the family system and permission to change a child’s last name at divorce,” said lawyer Kim Soo-jin.