The number of fathers taking time off work to take care of their children is increasing as parental leave becomes accepted in Korea. According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor on Wednesday, 819 male salaried workers took paternity leave last year, up 63 percent from 502 in 2009.
In the first quarter of this year, 273 men took the leave, up 86 percent from the corresponding period of last year. If the trend continues, the figure is expected to surpass 1,000 this year.
Paternity leave was made possible when the relevant law was amended in 1995. Before then, maternity or paternity leave was unpaid, making it especially difficult for men to take leave, but under the revised law those on leave can get up to 40 percent of their salary, or a minimum of W500,000 and a maximum of W1 million, and parents can take leave until the child is six years old.
Experts add that change in the men's mindset also contributed to the trend. Traditionally preoccupied with surviving competition at work, they have shifted toward putting more value on family.
Kwon Soon-beom from corporate culture team at supermarket chain Homeplus said, "Men increasingly want to spend more time with their family than at work, and strive to find a place in the family, which seems to boost the number of men taking paternity leave."