Minister Listens to Unmarried Couples' Woes

  • By Son Ho-young

    November 22, 2018 12:29

    Minister of Gender Equality and Family Jin Seon-mi on Wednesday met with eight people from various age groups who cohabit with their partners without being married.

    Jin listened to their stories at a meeting in Seoul to try to reflect changing perceptions of family and marriage in government policy.

    There have been calls to recognize various forms of family arrangements so that young people will feel more comfortable having children.

    Minister of Gender Equality and Family Jin Seon-mi talks to people who cohabit with their partners without being married in Seoul on Wednesday. /Newsis

    One woman in her 30s who is living with a partner said, "I can't even think about having a child right now, so I am living with three cats. I don't feel anything lacking at this particular moment, but I do feel that there is a limit to what unmarried couples can enjoy compared to those who are married."

    Statistics Korea earlier this month announced that for the first time ever more than half of people in Korea believe that people can live together without marriage.

    All eight people at the meeting had different lifestyles. Some had children while others decided to forgo having them. They all said unmarried couples face more discrimination and difficulties than married ones.

    "It's lonely to live alone, and we want to live with someone we love just like anybody else, but in reality we have to be careful about our relationship all the time," said one participant.

    Another participant said, "I hope the society stops treating cohabitation as a stepping stone or part of a process towards marriage and childbirth." She added, "Instead, cohabitation should be recognized as a legitimate form of family life."

    A 2016 survey by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs found that 51 percent of people who had lived with a partner without being married experienced prejudice and discrimination, and 45 percent said they experienced discrimination in accessing government support or services.

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