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Is divorce a taboo in Korea?


Divorce is a sensitive issue in many cultures around the world, and South Korea is no exception. In this article, we will explore the topic of divorce in Korea and examine whether it is considered a taboo subject in society.

Historical Perspective

To understand how divorce has been viewed in Korea, we need to look at its history. Historically, divorce was considered a shameful and dishonorable act, and it was highly stigmatized. However, attitudes have shifted over time, and divorce is now more accepted in modern Korean society.

Cultural Factors

There are several cultural factors that have influenced the way divorce is viewed in Korea. One of the most significant factors is Confucianism, which emphasizes the importance of family and traditional gender roles. Additionally, the influence of Christianity in Korea has led to a more conservative stance on divorce.

Legal Framework

In South Korea, divorce is legal and can be obtained through either mutual consent or litigation. The country’s legal system has undergone significant changes in recent years to make it easier for couples to obtain divorces. However, the legal process can still be cumbersome and time-consuming.

Social Stigma

Despite the changing attitudes towards divorce in Korea, social stigma still exists. Many Koreans believe that divorce is a failure and that it reflects poorly on a person’s character. As a result, some people may choose to stay in unhappy marriages rather than face the social consequences of divorce.

Gender Roles

Gender roles play a significant role in how divorce is viewed in Korea. Women are often expected to prioritize their roles as wives and mothers over their own personal happiness. This can make it difficult for women to initiate divorce proceedings or leave unhappy marriages without facing criticism from society.

Impact on Children

Divorce can have a significant impact on children, and many Koreans believe that staying together for the sake of the children is preferable to divorce. However, research has shown that children can be resilient in the face of divorce and that staying in an unhappy marriage can be detrimental to their well-being.

Factors Contributing to Divorce

Like in many other countries, there are several factors that contribute to divorce in Korea. These include financial problems, infidelity, and domestic violence. Additionally, changing gender roles and increased societal pressure to achieve success can put strain on marriages.

Divorce Rates

Divorce rates in Korea have been steadily rising in recent years. In 2019, the divorce rate was 2.1 per 1,000 people. While this is still relatively low compared to some Western countries, it represents a significant increase from past decades.

Government Initiatives

To address the rising divorce rates in Korea, the government has implemented several initiatives aimed at supporting families and promoting healthy relationships. These include counseling services for couples experiencing marital problems and financial support for single parents.


While divorce is no longer as stigmatized as it once was in Korea, there is still a long way to go before it is fully accepted as a normal part of modern society. Cultural factors, gender roles, and social stigma all play a role in shaping attitudes towards divorce. However, with the help of government initiatives and changing societal attitudes, it is possible that divorce will become less taboo in Korea over time.

Is divorce acceptable in Korea?

In Korea, a divorce can be granted if both spouses agree to it and appear in court together. This is stated in Article 834 of the Korean Civil Act.

What do Koreans think of divorce?

In Asian cultures, marriage is considered a holy commitment and divorce is heavily stigmatized, seen as a major wrongdoing. Women face added challenges in such situations, as they are viewed as disappointing not only their spouse and children, but also their larger family circle and social standing. The dominant male hierarchy typically holds the wife responsible, as she is traditionally in charge of domestic matters.

What are the two types of divorce in Korea?

In Korea, divorce is categorized into two types: one is a divorce that is agreed upon by both parties, while the other is a divorce that is granted through a court order. This distinction is recognized by law.

Is adultery illegal Korea?

After 62 years, the adultery laws in Korea were abolished in 2018. Instead of being changed by lawmakers, the Constitutional Court declared them unconstitutional and therefore no longer valid. The laws had originally been introduced in Criminal Law in 1953.

What is the adultery law in Korea?

South Korea had a law that made cheating on your spouse a crime and punishable by imprisonment for 62 years. However, the country’s Constitutional Court recently declared the law unconstitutional and overturned it. Adultery is no longer considered a crime in South Korea.

Why do Korean married couples sleep separately?

In Korea, some couples facing conflict choose to live together but sleep in separate rooms for a certain period of time as a strategy to avoid or solve their problems. This approach is distinct from those in other countries where marital conflicts often lead to separation or divorce.

Support for Divorced Individuals

Despite the lingering social stigma surrounding divorce in Korea, there are organizations and support groups available to help individuals going through a divorce. These groups provide emotional support, legal advice, and practical resources to help individuals navigate the divorce process. Additionally, some companies have implemented policies that provide time off and other benefits for employees going through a divorce.

The Role of Media

Media representation of divorce in Korea has also played a role in shaping public attitudes towards the issue. In recent years, there has been an increase in TV dramas and movies that depict divorced characters and explore the challenges they face. These depictions can help normalize divorce and encourage more open discussions about the topic.

International Perspectives

It’s worth noting that attitudes towards divorce vary widely across different cultures around the world. In some countries, divorce is relatively common and accepted as a normal part of life. In others, it may be highly stigmatized or even illegal. Understanding these different perspectives can help provide context for how divorce is viewed in Korea and shed light on potential ways to promote greater acceptance of the issue.

The Future of Divorce in Korea

As Korean society continues to evolve, it’s likely that attitudes towards divorce will also change. With increasing gender equality, economic opportunities, and social mobility, individuals may feel more empowered to pursue their own happiness and make decisions about their personal lives without fear of judgment or social ostracism. While it may take time to fully eradicate the stigma surrounding divorce in Korea, there are promising signs that attitudes are shifting in a more positive direction.

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