If you live here in Korea or come to visit, it’s just not very common to see young pregnant women, especially if they are in high school. Why is this? There are a number of reasons we think might contribute to such low pregnancy rates amongst teenage girls here.
This is a topic that is simply not that easy to talk about. For one, people here do not generally bring this topic of conversation up. Neither Richard nor I can remember the last time one of our Korean friends initiated such a topic for discussion with us. Of course when we ask our good friends about it, they don’t mind discussing it with us at all. But this sort of sentiment means we hear less about it and in order to be able to discuss it have to rely more heavily on what we see, which is just not that much.
It’s really popular now to get married now in their later 20s and into their early 30s. Parenthood, or having children out of wedlock still not considered socially acceptable. Because of this, from what we have heard, most young women who end up getting pregnant outside of marriage end up giving their baby up for adoption, or having an abortion. There are also a lot of shotgun weddings because children being born outside of marriage is socially unacceptable.
Regarding direct personal experience, neither Richard nor I can remember the last time we saw a teenaged pregnant girl in public. I attend school where Richard teaches. Neither of us has ever seen a pregnant student on campus. Never. That being said, Richard also explained in the video how he has his students write about their educational experience in relation to this topic and contraception. Results are indeed revealing. When asked about whether or not someone they knew in their teens became pregnant, many students respond with a yes.
Compared with most other countries around the world, Korea has a very low rate of teenage pregnancy. In 2001, Korea had the lowest teenage birth rate compared with all 28 countries surveyed. We consider this significant and something to be proud. We’ve both seen young women in our home country get pregnant in high school and the effects it has on how much more challenging certain aspects of life become later on, like trying to attend college for instance. Anyone who has a child knows how hard it can be sometimes, and young people often lack the emotional maturity to handle a baby at such a young age.
In 2011, there was a drama called ‘My Love By My Side’ that actually tackled the issue of teenage pregnancy. Even since I’ve started doing Hallyu Back, some dramas have gone over the difficulties of having a child out of wedlock. The first one that comes to mind is I Do I Do, because the whole drama revolved around the social stigma of having a baby outside of marriage.
The biggest thing is, there just isn’t a lot of information out there. This is just some of the information we have heard and experienced since living here. It is an interesting topic and one that is starkly different from the way people in our home country view it. Things are also constantly changing in Korea, and we’re curious to see how this topic evolves and develops as time goes by. ^^
If you have a question about Korea, drop us a note in the comment section below and we might choose it for next week’s “LIKE IT”. ☺