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"Why Divorce Rates are Changing in South Korea" - Linda Skogrand, Ph.D. | September 2020

Utah State University
Author of Marriages and Families, McGraw Hill

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Although we may consider South Korea as a country somewhat traditional in their views about marriage, their divorce rates have increased in recent years, impacting all aspects of family life. Before 1990, the divorce rates were some of the lowest in the world (Rowan, 2020, April 14). During that time, it was difficult for a divorced man to find a job, and many women would not want to marry a divorced man. The divorce rate has since increased by 400% from 1990 to 2017 and social views are changing.

Why the change? In the past, most people had traditional patriarchic values which contributed to keeping the divorce rate low. This increase has been especially true for older Koreans. In recent years, women are becoming more educated, and there are now more employment opportunities for women (Rowan, 2020, April 14). There has also been an increase in individuality, which means each partner makes decisions for themselves, rather than for the benefit of the immediate or extended family.

With an increase in divorce, there has also been an increase in second marriages (Rowan, 2020, April 14). Additionally, there has also been a delay in the age of marriage and having children. The lives of women have changed because many are also wage earners and are prioritizing responsibilities and choices in their lives. All of this has resulted in a new balance in who cares for children and who does household chores, with many of these responsibilities now shared between the husband and the wife.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What other countries might be experiencing similar changes in the divorce rate?
  2. Why do you think the increase in the divorce rate has been especially true for older Koreans?
  3. Would you speculate that people are happier as a result of this increase in the divorce rate? Why or why not?


Rowan, B. (2020, April 4). Divorce in Korea today. The Korea Times. Website:

About the Author

Linda Skogrand is an assistant professor and family life extension specialist at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. She began her professional career as a social worker in the inner-city of St. Louis, Missouri, and throughout her career has enjoyed a balance between academic institutions and social service organizations. She has also taught family courses at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, for 17 years and was adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota for several years. She has published articles focusing on values in parent education, the lives of families who have experienced Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, transcendence of traumatic childhoods, spirituality, strong Latino marriages, and debt and marriage. She has co-authored several books including "Surviving and Transcending a Traumatic Childhood: The Dark Thread, Coping with Sudden Infant Death, and Sudden Infant Death: Enduring the Loss." Her current research focuses on strong marriages in the Latino and American Indian cultures and she is currently conducting a national study of what makes “great” marriages with John DeFrain.