Many Korean male college students would consider being a stay-at-home dad if only society didn’t frown on the role so much. That’s one of the main takeaways from a recent survey of 439 students by online job recruitment firm Incruit, which showed how attitudes to gender roles are changing in South Korea, as well as how they are entrenched in society at large. South Korea remains a conservative, patriarchal society where men are overwhelmingly the bread winners and women the homemakers. In a sign of how the younger generation is open to change, the survey showed that almost 60% of male students said they were willing to stay at home after they get married while their wives work full-time.
But when asked what would worry them most about being a househusband, a little over half of the men surveyed said that society’s prejudice against men taking care of household affairs was the biggest stumbling block. Government data show that 177,000 men among the 5.35 million economically non-active male population in January this year cited their main “job” as child-rearing and housekeeping, a proportion that is little changed from six years ago. The upper echelons of corporate Korea are overwhelmingly male.
The survey also highlighted another problem to gender equality in South Korea: income disparity. Half of the female students in the poll said they were negative about the idea of their would-be husbands becoming a full-time homemaker, with the top reason being that their husbands would likely earn more than them if they were out working. According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, male workers at companies with five or more employees earned 3.13 million won ($2,896) a month on average last year, while female workers made 2.02 million won a month, or about 64.5% of what their male counterparts earned.