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Meaning of family becoming broader, more inclusive in Korean society Updated: 2019-05-24 19:35:18 KST

Korean society is breaking away from its age-old Confucian notions of family to embrace and support diverse forms of families.
May is officially the month to celebrate families in Korea.

While many Western cultures simply observe Mother's and Father's Days, Korea is unique in celebrating Children's Day on May Fifth and Parents' Day on May Eighth, as well as a "coming of age" day to congratulate Koreans who turn 20 years old that year.
The significance of family has been an integral part of Korean culture.

Family units have traditionally been closely knit and defined by the Confucian order of relationships, with the husband or the father acting as the decision-maker, and children expected to obey and fulfill their duties to their parents.

However, in modern times, following the Korean War in the mid 20th century, family dynamics have shifted, with more equal roles among the members.
Sociologists say there's a need to expand and update the term to make it contemporary.
They also say it needs to include more excluded members of Korean society such as those with disabilities, multicultural families and single parents.

"In both Eastern and Western cultures, there were some negative aspects to family-centered societies, such as patriarchal dominance. However, with growing social diversity and gender equality, the meaning of family is also changing. It no longer focuses on bloodline or heritage but it's branching out to various forms where people care for one another."

Korea, in fact, for the first time celebrated a special day for single-parent families this year, and has been making efforts in recent years to support multicultural families and those dealing with disabilities.

Experts say local governments and communities must ramp up welfare and education programs, especially during the month of families, and continue to make society more inclusive so that all members can feel at home.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.
Reporter : osy@arirang.com
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