Divorce is still a controversial topic in Korea and Cho In-sup, a divorce lawyer at Law firm Shinsegaelaw, is breaking the divorce taboo in Korea with comics on social media.
Cho is an Ewha alumnae who graduated from the Department of Law in 1999 spreading a message online that divorce is one of the many ways people say goodbye and having been divorced does not equate social failure. She explains she opened her law firm 13 years ago and started drawing short cartoons based on her job experience since then, which was the beginning of her career as a comic writer.
“The divorce process is less known, or often misunderstood by the public. I wanted to approach people in a friendly way, so I chose comics. To guarantee my clients’ privacy, every story is reconstructed and has slight variations,” Cho said in a recent interview with Ewha voice.
According to Statistics Korea, more than 108,000 cases of divorce has been reported in 2018 with 4.8 percent divorce rate. Although the divorce rate remains low compared to those of OECD countries, it is notable that the divorce rate for elderly couples has increased 14 times within the past 20 years. Cho replied that the peculiarly high divorce rate for elderly couples in South Korea can be explained by two factors: change in perspective and longer life expectancy.
“Suppressing oneself in a stressful situation and not causing a scene has been looked up, almost as a virtue in Korea for a long time,” Cho said. “Many couples decided to postpone their divorce until their kids have become financially independent due to this reason. A generation ago, one’s average life expectancy was much shorter so after raising their kids together, there was no strong reason for them to end their marriage.”
However, Cho mentioned that things are now changing. Humanity is entering the homo-hundred era which means even at the age of 60, one still has 40 years to live. There is a strong motivation for people to live the lives they want and staying quiet in an unbearable situation is no longer looked up as mature behavior.
“In the past, even celebrities were hesitant to break the news of divorce. However, now that is a story of the past,” Cho stated.
In her Instagram comics, it is mentioned that many women are categorized into extreme poverty after divorce. She explained that this happens for two reasons: the mom usually raises the kids and most of them had a long period of career break, which makes re-employment after divorce only harder. Cho also highlighted that the division of property heavily depends on the level of contribution one makes to the overall income of the family, usually leaving the women with not enough financial support to raise children. In order to support these women, Cho mentioned that it is necessary to have a system where national organizations provide child support expenses to those in need in advance of the divorce trial. Later, the government would receive the money from the people who have been designated to provide financial support for the child after the trial, as most of the trials are about the child support expenses.
Lastly, Cho gave advice to newlywed couples.
“Marriage is very different from being in a relationship, no matter how long it has lasted. There must be a certain boundary that one should keep in every relationship. Your spouse should not be an exception to rules that you keep. Have manners, keep the line, give them space.”
Her comics can be found on Instagram: insup_cho.