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Can Koreans get divorced?


Korean marriages are known for their strength and stability. However, like any other relationship, Korean couples may also face issues that could lead to separation. In this article, we will explore the topic of divorce in Korea, including its history, legal aspects, and cultural implications.

History of Divorce in Korea

Divorce has existed in Korean society for centuries but was often considered taboo. In the past, only men could initiate a divorce, and women had limited rights to terminate their marriages. The introduction of modern laws in the 20th century changed this, and divorce became more common.

Legal Aspects of Divorce in Korea

In Korea, divorce is granted by a court and can be filed by either spouse. The most common grounds for divorce are adultery, abuse, and irreconcilable differences. The process can take several months to complete and requires legal representation.

Impact of Divorce on Korean Society

Divorce is still stigmatized in Korean society, especially for women. Many Koreans believe that a broken marriage reflects poorly on the entire family and may even affect future job prospects. However, attitudes towards divorce are slowly changing as more people become open to alternative lifestyles.

Divorce Rates in Korea

Despite the stigma surrounding divorce, the number of divorces in Korea has been steadily increasing over the years. According to government statistics, there were over 114,000 divorces in 2019 alone. This can be attributed to changing social norms and increased financial independence for women.

Divorce and Children

Divorce can be particularly challenging for children in Korea. In many cases, children may feel torn between their parents or may face discrimination from peers due to their family status. However, there are support networks available to help children cope with divorce.

Divorce and Property Division

In Korea, property division in a divorce is based on the principle of equitable distribution. This means that assets acquired during the marriage are split fairly between both spouses. However, the process can be complicated, especially if there are disputes over ownership or valuation.

Divorce and Alimony

Alimony is not a common practice in Korea, but it may be awarded in cases where one spouse has significantly lower earning potential than the other. The amount and duration of alimony are determined by the court based on various factors such as the length of the marriage and the financial needs of each party.

Alternative to Divorce: Legal Separation

In Korea, couples who wish to separate but do not want to divorce can file for legal separation. This allows them to live apart and divide their property, but they remain legally married. Legal separation is often sought by couples who do not want to risk losing their social status or face societal pressure.

Counseling and Mediation Services

Counseling and mediation services are available in Korea for couples who wish to work on their relationship before resorting to divorce. These services aim to provide support and guidance to couples and help them resolve conflicts in a healthy way.


In conclusion, divorce is a complex issue in Korean society that reflects changing social norms and attitudes. While divorces can be challenging, there are support networks available to help individuals cope with the process. Ultimately, divorce should be seen as a viable option for couples who are unable to reconcile their differences, rather than a taboo topic or a source of shame.

Is divorce illegal in South Korea?

In Korea, a married couple can agree to a divorce without going through the court system. This is stated in the Civil Act article 834. As long as the other spouse agrees, the spouse who is at fault can initiate the divorce process without involving the courts.

How to divorce a Korean?

In Korea, couples can file for divorce through the family court without having to give a specific reason if both parties agree to the separation. The court only evaluates the sincerity of the intention to divorce from both parties.

How easy is it to get a divorce in Korea?

The length of time it takes to get a divorce in Korea depends on whether both parties agree or not. If both parties agree, the divorce can be finalized in as little as a month or two. However, if the divorce is contested, it typically takes 5 to 9 months to receive a ruling from the first court.

What is the divorce culture in Korea?

In Korea, there is no option for a no-fault divorce, except in cases where both parties agree. Instead, the divorce process is centered around finding fault and assigning blame between the two parties. The courts believe that a spouse who is not at fault should not be unfairly forced into a divorce they do not want.

Is marriage a big deal in Korea?

In Korean traditional culture, similar to other traditional cultures, the elders of the bride and groom made decisions regarding their marriage. This is because Confucian values prioritize family and customs. Marriage is seen as a crucial milestone in one’s life.

Is adultery illegal Korea?

After 62 years, the modern adultery laws in Korea, which were established in 1953 under the Criminal Law, were finally abolished. The Constitutional Court declared them unconstitutional, rather than being repealed or amended by lawmakers.

It is important to note that divorce rates in Korea are still lower than in many Western countries. This can be attributed to the emphasis on traditional values and the importance of family in Korean culture. However, as more Koreans embrace modern lifestyles and prioritize individual happiness, divorce rates are expected to continue rising.

One trend that has emerged in recent years is the rise of gray divorce, which refers to divorces among older couples. This can be attributed to longer lifespans, increased financial independence, and changing attitudes towards marriage. Gray divorce can be particularly challenging, as older couples may have accumulated significant assets and face unique challenges related to retirement and healthcare.

Another factor that can impact divorce in Korea is religion. While Korea is predominantly a secular society, there are significant Christian and Buddhist populations that may have different views on divorce. For example, some Christian denominations may view divorce as a sin or a failure to uphold the sanctity of marriage.

Overall, divorce in Korea is a complex issue that reflects the changing values and attitudes of Korean society. While it is still stigmatized to some extent, there is growing acceptance of divorce as a viable option for couples who are unable to reconcile their differences. It is important for individuals considering divorce to seek support and guidance from legal and counseling services to ensure a smooth transition.

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