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Women’s Role in Contemporary Korea Essay


Traditionally, a Korean woman duties and responsibilities were supposed to be based on the household compound. When they were young in their teenage, they were taught behaviours of inferiority, and how to be patience, as a way of preparing them for the future women roles (Pok 102).

Women were not supposed to participate in various activities like how their men were doing. Their main duty was to serve as a wife and a mother to the children. During the late 19th century, the country became civilised due to interactions with the outside world, and several situations started taking a new direction.

During this period, several changes were realised in the country that resulted to a different perception of women’s roles. There was an introduction of modern schools that were not there in the old Korea.

Western Christian missionaries assisted a great deal to come up with these schools, some of which were purposely meant to boost the status of women. Education was a major initiative in changing the role of women in Korea. Were it not for education, women would remain in oppression status for a long time (Hyun 95).

The chance of enrolling in schools, women acquired much knowledge that opened important doors for them as far as activities were concerned. Women learnt important skills like arts, teaching, and even some faith doctrines.

The lucky women who got chances of enrolling in schools demonstrated a very social attribute by enlightening their fellow women. Through this, women encouraged one another and the knowledge and skills were easily passed among women. During the time when there was independence movement in Korea meant for facilitating some actions against Japanese occupation women were never left behind.

Women took this opportunity to prove their capability and as vigorous as men, full of determinations and even more courageous than they were expected. During this period, women participated in various actions that they were never thought they are capable. They achieved higher expectations than even their men, and people especially the leaders started viewing them as able human beings.

The best recognition of women came min the year 1948 when the Korea attained independence. This brought an opening for women through the new constitution that Korea came up with. The constitution had rights for women to pursue education just like any other person, and not be seen as a lesser human being.

Women were also supposed to enjoy rights of work in any place at any level as long as they were qualified. The constitution also allowed women to interact with public life just like any other person and participate accordingly without any form of discrimination.

When women got this chance, they made marvellous contributions to the economy as most of them occupied professional posts in public and private sectors (Edson 89). After the constitution where women started enjoying their rights, the economic growth of Korea improved rapidly, and this was considered as the contributions of women as they were seen working with much efforts.

As much as the economic status of Korea developed, the living standards of the country also improved, which resulted to a higher level of education that women were to achieve.

By the year 1998, the level of the educated women who were professionals in Korea was very high. 99.5% of women by this year had attained a high school education, and approximately 61.6% had attained a university level of education (Pok 62). According to the research that were done, there is evident that the rate of participation of women in the economy of Korea increased steadily as it was 34.4% in the year 1965 and then increased up to 48.1% in 1999.

This was an act appreciated by everyone in Korea, as it showed the effort of women in their work. Women embraced their rights, and opportunities of contributing to the economic development so much. In the year 1975, the top positions like managerial and other professional activities consisted of only 2% of the women while men occupied the rest (Pok 89).

This did not imply that women were not capable of working in such positions, but it is only that they did not have the opportunities to utilize their talents and potential. During this period, even the jobs that are for women currently like clerical jobs had only 4%.

By the year 1998, the trend was completely different whereby the top positions and career jobs in public and private sectors were occupied by approximately 13% of women, and now the clerical positions had gained its popularity to women and women occupied approximately 15% of this job.

The effort of women to work in professional and high positions in different sectors, the government decided to boost their effort and maintain their morale. In 1987, the government of Korea came up with equal employment act that was to eliminate any form of discrimination to female workers (Theodore 246).

This act gave women an equal opportunity to secure any job in any rank provided they are qualified, and an equal opportunity of gaining promotions at their working places just as their fellow male workers. Today, a Korean woman is a very crucial contributor to the country’s economy.

Women are now participating in all types of fields just like men. There are some fields that were believed to be best for men like engineering, law and medicine. Currently, Korean women have surpassed these believes ad are now actively working in such fields.

The new administration that took place in 1998 was purposely to support the women affairs. This commission was even made to cover wider areas and be responsible for ministerial gender equality mainly to look over the women education and their careers.

Although a Korean woman got an opportunity to acquire education and skills to enable her to work in high posts and other professional posts, other duties about rearing children and household chores are also her responsibilities.

This makes Korean women to be among the busiest women in the world. The society does not allow these women to abandon the children and other household chores to their careers (Pok 121). The constitutional rights that opened all those opportunities to these women was a way of adding more responsibilities to women of Korea, but they proved to equal the challenge.

Korean women are always overburdened with many commitments and prospectus. The government does not let down the efforts of these Korean women, but it worked hard towards empowering these women and to provide them with the necessary resources that would enable them perform their duties.

Korean women are mostly involved in triple jobs whereby, the opportunity to education opened a great chance of working, their children as well rely on their mothers care and love, and finally the household chores are responsibilities of Korean women.

In many companies, the employers avoid as much as possible from employing women especially the married ones due to their home burdens of children and other chores (Edson 96). This fact has made women to suffer in the modern Korea world, as they were facing such discrimination due to their other burdens.

The government did not hesitate to protect women from such discrimination it came up with maternity protection law, whereby the employed women would receive a three month paid leave after delivery and they had the right to resume their working positions after the leave. This enactment protected many women from loosing their jobs after delivery as it was happening before.

Despite all the barriers that Korean women faced before and after independence, they continued to prove their significance in the society. Women started participating in government and politics activities in the year 1990, and started taking remarkable responsibilities whereby they proved their capabilities of making achievements.

For the past few years, there was a woman in Korea who managed to secure the position of a prime minister, and even others who were ready to meet the challenge by vying for presidency.

Women have occupied other high positions in the government and in politics like the mayoral seats. In the year 2004, the percentage of women in the Korea national assembly had increased to up to 13%, and this was remarkable for women compared to the past when there was no woman in parliament (Edson 81).

The presence of women in parliament and mostly in the law making activities was very crucial for the other women and a girl child in Korea.

The women in parliament showed the readiness to continue the fight for the women rights to ensure the Korean woman was in the right position in the society. These women concentrated mostly in shaping the woman life right from the young female children to prepare them to handle the challenges of the family and for the working environment (Bary 867).

In the past, a girl child grew up knowing that her place is within the household to take care of the husband, children and undertake other household chores. However, currently these young female children are brought up by learned mothers who show them that a woman is equal to any challenge just like men.

The girl child is also brought up in the society where women are in top positions and are doing much to bring the achievement to the whole nation.

The emergence of superior companies in Korea also promoted the learned women a great deal. The ones who were advantaged to acquire the education occupied the middle to upper level executives in those companies like LG electronics (Hyun 156).

The companies employed women as they proved competent and equal to major challenges, and so these companies were so sure about good performance of women.

Although such executive positions were relied on men only, women in some companies were even doing better than men. For instance, in most companies, women best perform the department of research and developments and the number of women employed in such field is increasing day by day.

Globally, women are seen as a minority group, but their performance, determination and successful proves them as equal as men. The women’s role in the modern Korea covers both socially and economically (Bary 513).

When women started working in professional positions, most of them became the family’s bread winner to be relied upon by the rest of the family as the source of financial support. Women with good working conditions have really proved to be performers in different fields.

Apart from occupying the executive positions in different sectors, the learned women are also in best performing businesses. Women own and manage good businesses that earn them an attractive income in Korea.

One reason why women are prospering in business is due to their capability of serving their customers well hence retaining the old ones and attracting more to their businesses (Theodore 202). The aspect of women owning businesses, they have become employers to even men. There are men who works in businesses and companies owned by women, and women have also proved to be good bosses.

The women, who own businesses, are mostly also the overall manager of their businesses. According to some researches done, women businesses have prospered much as women have the best human resource attributes.

In conclusion, women in the contemporary Korea are as competent workers as men are. Since independence, the government of Korea can least the effort of women, and mostly their contributions to the economy of the nation.

Starting from the social setting the work of a Korean woman is identifiable, politically, women have also some wonderful achievements, and economically, they have contributed greatly (Hyun 105). The government of Korea has and is continuing to make the working conditions of women conducive, to enable them fulfil their dreams of improving the overall productivity of the nation.

Gender equality is very important in any nation as everyone has his or her role to play in developing the nation. Gender discrimination can lead the whole nation to a downfall, as women are also contributors’ economically. Women have also another major role of acting as the role models of the growing female children. They have to act as good role models.

Works Cited

Columbia University Press, 2008.Bary, William. Sources of East Asian Tradition: The modern period. New York: Edson, Michael. Koreas twentieth-century. Hawaii: University of Hawaii, 2007.

Hyun, Theresa. Writing women in Korea: Translation and feminism in the colonial period. Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

Pok, Sang. Modern korean society: Its development and prospect. California: University of California, 2007.

Theodore, Jun. The politics of gender in colonial Korea: Education, labour, and health. California: University of California, 2008.

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IvyPanda. (2019, March 25). Women's Role in Contemporary Korea. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/womens-role-in-contemporary-korea/

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"Women's Role in Contemporary Korea." IvyPanda, 25 Mar. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/womens-role-in-contemporary-korea/.

1. IvyPanda. "Women's Role in Contemporary Korea." March 25, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/womens-role-in-contemporary-korea/.


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IvyPanda. "Women's Role in Contemporary Korea." March 25, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/womens-role-in-contemporary-korea/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Women's Role in Contemporary Korea." March 25, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/womens-role-in-contemporary-korea/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Women's Role in Contemporary Korea'. 25 March.

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