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Monday, July 12, 2004

(Family and kin) Increasing postponement of marriage registration

Chosun Ilbo tells that couples are increasingly delaying the registration of marriages (honin sin'go) despite of holding the marriage ceremony (kyôrhonsik). Reading this piece of news it's good to remember that the legally registered marriage and socially recognized marriage are different; in these cases the latter is done but not the former, so the couples are in a culturally/socially sanctioned relationship, but not legally married.

It isn't that big survey, done on 231 couples by the "Korean Marriage Culture Research Institute", which has been founded by the marriage agency Sunoo, but it'll do for now. For women earning more than 2 million W, the average time between wedding and marriage registration was 89 days, for housewifes 59 days.
• The better the woman earns, the longer the registration of marriage after the wedding ceremony is postponed
• Main reasons for postponing the registration: "afraid of divorce", "not sure about the marriage partner"

Here we have signs of an institution or a practice resembling the Western cohabitation before marriage; both are socially sanctioned ways of forming a partnership; the Western one without any particular ritual, the Korean one with a wedding ceremony, which nevertheless does not seem to be that binding. Cohabitation in Korea, tonggô, done mostly but perhaps decreasingly in secret, is different. Note still that the surveyed lapse between wedding and registration is as long as 59 days even among the couples where the woman is whole-time housewife (chônôp chubu); this should be hugely different from what things used to be. Actually it's been mostly the opposite; if there's been a postponement, it's the wedding ceremony which has been done later, when enough money has been secured.

Recommended reading: Laurel Kendall: Getting Married in Korea: of Gender, Morality, and Modernity, University of California Press 1996. This is a scholarly book, but very well written. (See a review; at the publisher's site)

Update.
As soon as I wrote this post, someone came to my blog by a searching marriage is not a necessary institution in Daum Search. Talk about 烏飛梨落...
Perhaps the best that I've seen among the search terms leading to my pages is bearded woman; the persons attracting such words simultaneously must have been Kang Ki-gap and Park Geun-hye.

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