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Is divorce high in Korea?


Divorce has become an increasingly common phenomenon in many parts of the world. While some countries have shown a decline in divorce rates over the years, others have seen a steady rise in the number of divorces taking place. Korea is one such country that has experienced a significant increase in divorce rates. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why Korea has one of the highest divorce rates in Asia.

History of Marriage and Divorce in Korea

Before we explore the reasons behind the high divorce rates, it is important to understand the history of marriage and divorce in Korea. In traditional Korean society, marriage was seen as a sacred bond between two families, and divorce was often frowned upon. However, with the westernization of Korea in the 20th century, attitudes towards marriage and family began to change, and divorce became more acceptable.

Changing Attitudes towards Marriage

One of the main reasons for the high divorce rates in Korea is the changing attitudes towards marriage. In traditional Korean society, individuals were expected to marry someone from a similar social status and background. However, with increased education and career opportunities, young Koreans are seeking partners who share similar interests and values rather than just social status.

Aging Population

Another factor contributing to the high divorce rates in Korea is the aging population. With advancements in healthcare and a declining birth rate, Korea’s population is rapidly aging. As people live longer, they are more likely to experience problems in their marriages which can lead to divorce.

Financial Pressures

Financial pressures are also a significant factor contributing to the high divorce rates in Korea. With rising housing prices and stagnant wages, many young couples are struggling to make ends meet. This can lead to stress and tension in their relationships which can ultimately result in divorce.

Gender Inequality

Gender inequality is another factor that contributes to the high divorce rates in Korea. Korean society is still largely patriarchal, and women often face discrimination in the workplace and in their personal lives. This can lead to feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction in their marriages which can ultimately lead to divorce.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences between Koreans and foreigners can also contribute to the high divorce rates. With increasing globalization, more Koreans are marrying non-Koreans, which can lead to cultural clashes and misunderstandings.


Infidelity is another factor contributing to the high divorce rates in Korea. While extramarital affairs are not uncommon in many parts of the world, they are particularly frowned upon in Korean society, and the discovery of an affair can often lead to divorce.

Legal System

The legal system in Korea also plays a role in the high divorce rates. In Korea, divorces are typically granted based on fault, which means that one party must be found at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. This can make it difficult for couples to get a divorce without assigning blame.

Stigma surrounding Divorce

Despite the increasing acceptance of divorce in Korean society, there is still a significant stigma attached to it. Many Koreans view divorce as a failure and may feel ashamed or embarrassed if they get divorced. This can lead some couples to stay together even if they are unhappy.

Role of Religion

Religion also plays a role in the high divorce rates in Korea. While Christianity has become increasingly popular in recent years, traditional Confucian values still hold sway in many parts of Korean society. These values emphasize filial piety and family harmony, which can make it difficult for some couples to get a divorce.


In conclusion, the high divorce rates in Korea can be attributed to a variety of factors, including changing attitudes towards marriage, financial pressures, gender inequality, cultural differences, and more. While there is no easy solution to this problem, greater awareness and understanding of the underlying causes can help couples and policymakers address these issues and work towards reducing the divorce rates in Korea.

Why divorce rates are so high in South Korea?

South Korea’s rising divorce rate can be primarily attributed to women, who are initiating most of the divorces. Women are now more confident in their ability to leave unhappy marriages, find employment, and take care of themselves and their children.

What is the divorce culture in Korea?

The Korean divorce system does not allow for no-fault divorce, except in cases where both parties agree to it. Instead, divorce proceedings are based on fault and involve determining who is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. The courts believe that a spouse who has not committed any wrongdoing should not be forced into divorce against their wishes.

What country has highest divorce rate?

The Maldives has the highest divorce rate globally, with around 5.5 divorces per 1,000 individuals. This has been a persistent problem, with increasing numbers of couples opting to split up rather than remain together.

Is divorce bad in South Korea?

The divorce rate among young couples in Korea has been increasing due to the influence of Western values. However, older couples still consider divorce to be a taboo and Korea has a lower divorce rate compared to other countries. This was reported on January 27, 2000.

What is the cheating rate in South Korea?

HEYDAY magazine’s research has revealed that over 50% (53.7%) of men who are above the age of 50 have had an affair, whereas the percentage for women who are above the age of 50 is only 9.6%. This data is quite startling as it indicates that more than half of men in this age group have been disloyal to their partners.

Is marriage a big deal in Korea?

Traditional Korean culture follows the beliefs of other traditional cultures where marriage was arranged by the elders of the bride and groom. Confucian values prioritize family and family customs above all else. Marriage is viewed as the most significant milestone in a person’s life.

The Impact of Divorce on Society

The high divorce rates in Korea not only affect the individuals involved but also have a significant impact on society as a whole. Divorce can have negative effects on children, leading to emotional distress and difficulties in school. It can also contribute to social isolation and loneliness, particularly among older adults who may have fewer social supports.

Moreover, divorce can also have economic consequences, as single-parent households are more likely to experience poverty than two-parent households. In addition, the high cost of legal fees and other expenses associated with divorce can put a strain on individuals’ finances.

Efforts to Address the Issue

The Korean government has taken some steps to address the issue of high divorce rates. In 2013, the government launched a campaign to promote healthy marriages and prevent divorce. The campaign includes programs that provide counseling and education for couples, as well as financial support for those experiencing difficulties.

Furthermore, there has been an increased focus on promoting gender equality and improving work-life balance in Korea. This includes initiatives such as increasing access to affordable childcare and flexible work arrangements, which can help alleviate some of the financial pressures that contribute to divorce.


In conclusion, the high divorce rates in Korea are a complex issue with multiple contributing factors. While efforts are being made to address the problem, there is no easy solution. However, by promoting healthy relationships, addressing financial pressures, and improving gender equality and work-life balance, Korea can work towards reducing its divorce rates and creating a more supportive society for all.

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