It was a sunny day in May when homemaker Park Mi-soo(age 38) returned home after taking her third grade daughter to school and took out some alcohol and glass from her kitchen. It was 9:00 a.m., and she could not help but admit that she was an alcoholic, not a person that simply liked to drink. She immediately saw a doctor and started treatment. It had been five years after she retired from work and began her life as a full-time homemaker. Your reporter met with Park, who recently published an essay titled “Reasons for being drunk on some days,” a book on overcoming alcoholism.
“A homemaker that drinks alone in the kitchen is called a kitchen drinker,” she said. “I became one myself when I couldn’t find any sense of achievement staying at home as a full-time mom doing childcare and housework.”
Park became a homemaker in 2016 to fully devote herself to raise her child, after working as a reporter for newspapers and magazines for 10 years. She was exposed to frequent drinking while working as a reporter, but she resorted to drinking to relieve stress after she quit her job. “You can tell how serious your alcohol dependence is by checking when you start drinking,” she said. “I first started out adding a drink to my late hour snack, which advanced to dinner time, lunch time and eventually in the morning.”
She pointed out that women who had their career interrupted due to childcare are more prone to alcoholism. The image of a competent woman portrayed in the media is often depicted as a heavy drinker that exceeds her male peers, which encourages women to learn that drinking well is a virtue. “I also worked in an environment where I was criticized for ‘acting like a woman’ if I declined a drink,” she said.
Social stigma towards ‘young female alcoholics’ force kitchen drinkers to hide their habits, which delays the time in realizing their state. Park said that alcoholism is frequently a symptom of depression.
“Just as depression can be treated with the right care, it is the same for alcoholism; it is nothing to be ashamed of. Do you flinch when you see the question ‘how many times do you drink in a week?’ when you take your annual health check-up? Then it’s time for you to reflect on yourself.”