Marriage in Media, Reality Check
Marriage in Media, Reality Check
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  • 승인 2005.06.01 00:00
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   For singles, marriage may be a mystery, but TV dramas have always provided a source of what married life might be, or has it?

 According to the Korea National Statistics Office, an average of 314,119 couples got hitched every year from 2000 to 2004.

 The number of marriages has not varied a lot from year to year, the lowest being 304,932 cases in year 2003, and highest 334,030 in year 2000.

 It is not a surprise to find, however, that there has been a steady decrease in marriage by women in their early to mid-twenties getting married and a corresponding increase for women from age 28 onwards, as women increasingly choose to pursue careers before focusing on family life.

 TV Dramas ― one of the most popular and influential types of programming in Korea ― have also dramatically changed their portrayal of marriages. Let's take a peek at how marriage has changed within the televised world. 

 Once upon a time, marriage in big families was an obligatory issue in a drama.

 For instance, KBS's drama Mok-yok-tang Jib Namja-deul" ("Men of the Public Bath") told the story of a traditional Korean family, where three generations live under one roof.

 A multitude of up to ten characters appearing on one screen was quite normal, and marriage was shown as a custom that carried across all ages and many stages.

 MBC also presented a cozy family atmosphere with its drama "Ku-dae Kueurigo Na" ("You and I") in the year 1997. It showed the lives, loves, and marital conflicts of each member of the family, stressing the function of family as a source of continuity throughout all the ups and downs. 

 Who would have thought that things would change so vastly within the next seven years or so?

 True, marriage and family are still widely dealt with, however, in contrast to real trends, the married lives of young couples have now emerged more frequently on the small screen.

 Last year's KBS mini series "Full House," starring singer Rain and actress Song Hye-kyo was about a couple in a contracted marriage, MBC's drama "Wonderful Life," which ended last month, portrayed two young adults (in their early twenties) forced into another contracted marriage because of an accidental one-night-stand.

 Another drama by MBC, "Goot-sae-ura Gumsoona" ("Be Strong Gumsoon,") shows the life of a young widow who also married at a young age after conceiving a child out of wedlock.

  But, younger marriages are not the only change in marriages in the world of television.

 Traditional Male and Female roles are also being questioned.

 A major example is SBS's recent drama "Bad Wife," which completely switched the conventional roles of husband and wife in areas like doing household chores and earning income for the family.

 Conservative ideas are being altered in dramas, but does it mean that it is happening in real life?

 Professor Yoo Sae-kyung (Media Studies) talks a bit more about what the changes in media content indicate. "You could say that society is being influenced by the media; however, media content is also being influenced by society. Women's roles in society are changing, and that enables families' main functions to change, which ultimately has an affect on media content.

 It is a reciprocal relationship." As for whether drama's portrayal of marriage will soon change again, she says, "The context of marriage and family functioning is subject to change, since that is what is happening in reality. However, despite structural changes in families, I doubt that the family as a social unit will ever be abolished. It is still, and will always be a very important unit which sustains a healthy society."

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