South Korea’s #NoMarriage Movement

Nov 1, 2019 | 360, CULTURE, Korea

Runaway Bride ©Corey Balazowich

These women wave good riddance to traditional gender roles and embrace womanhood in its truest form

Young women in South Korea have begun rejecting marriage and motherhood, basically any traditionally female roles, in a united front for feminism and solidarity. This is a huge step for the women as South Korea is renowned for adhering to traditional gender roles with the added pressure for women to be settled into a marital routine by the time they’re 30. 

An unmarried woman in South Korea is known as a “mi-hon” but women are reclaiming the term with a few adjustments. Now, they are choosing to be called “bi-hon” meaning to proudly choose to be unmarried and childless. The movement is not sitting well with the government due to the country having one of the lowest birth rates in the world as well as a deficiency in pension funding. Nevertheless, the women are making it abundantly clear that they are no longer tolerating the government’s pressure to be “baby-making tools”.

The Roots of the Movement: How it all Started

During the day, Baeck Ha-na is just your average accountant. But when she gets home, she’s a Youtube star that promotes womanhood. Her channel is called “Solo-darity” and it features empowering messages that cater to the freedom they deserve to be their own people, and not puppets for the growth of an economy. Soon, the #NoMarriage hashtag came alive and women all over the country resonated with Baeck’s narrative. She is also a member of EMIF which stands for “Elite Without Marriage, I am Going Forward”, an organization for women who fight marital pressure from society.

In her channel, she discusses that the government’s agenda to trap women in a box has been infuriating and unjust, to say the least. She brings to light that officials do not stop and listen to a woman’s concerns regarding marriage and child-bearing and that if they did, both parties would have a better understanding of each other. She relays her own struggle stating that society made her feel like a failure for being unmarried in her 30s. But she knows better. She finds pride in belonging to nobody but herself. She stated:

“To force a woman into marriage and childbearing represents a deeply ingrained perception of a woman in our society as an object, not an individual.”

No Price on Freedom and Independence:

South Korea’s decline in marriage has affected its rate of births which negatively impacts the country’s economy as a whole, and the government is doing everything in its power to assuage the situation. According to statistics from the World Bank, South Korea is tied with Puerto Rico as the country with the lowest rate of births with only seven children born per 1,000 people. Unfortunately for the government, this number is only decreasing. And in the throes of this new movement, it does not seem like an economic balance is in the midst. But is it important compared to freedom?

The aim of the #NoMarriage movement is not to rebel against society and the government, but to induce a change in the perception of women in South Korea. Instead of vessels for conception, they want to be regarded as people. People with the right to choose what they want for their lives and to enjoy that journey without pressure from their peers. It is a fight to make the government understand that women are not only women when they become a wife or conceive a child. It is a roar meant to make the world see that nobody has the right to tell you what to do with your body. 

The problem lies in the outdated views on relationship roles and the lack of appropriate support from the government. Boosting birth rates should not entail pressure on the country’s women. It means taking measures to reassure women that if they so choose to have a child, the country will back them up with the proper avenues to aid and alleviate any burdens. 

Rest assured, with or without the government’s support in this movement, these women know how to fight for their rights and they will keep doing so until change occurs.