Professor Cheon Hye-jung (Human Ecology) was interviewed to evaluate today's marriage trends.
E.V.: Why do you think people in the past chose to marry? And what is the reason people marry nowadays?
Prof. Cheon: In nomadic times and the agricultural age, people did not have a marriage system like that of today, but the idea of marriage was similar. People married to satisfy their desire for affection and support.
Today, people still cite similar reasons for marriage: to satisfy their emotional desires. There are social and economic reasons as well. However, I still think that marriage is primarily for individual convenience.
Society treats singles and married people differently. One of the biggest reasons for marriage is to satisfy social standards, since if they do not marry, they are viewed negatively.
E.V.: Is marriage necessary?
Prof. Cheon: No. I don't think marriage is a necessary act. You can marry, but you do not have to marry.
E.V.: Marriage trends are changing. Why are these changes occurring?
Prof. Cheon: There are three big reasons. First is a demolition of the idea of a "marriageable age." Before, most women preferred to marry young. However, now, when to marry is not a question anymore.
Second is "destruction in partnership." In the past, remarrying was acceptable for men, but not for women. But, nowadays, the opposite works. Also, there are many couples where the woman is older than the man.
Third is "breakdown in formality." The rates of cohabitation and singles have increased. Couples that do not follow an institutional marriage system have also increased.
E.V.: Statistics show that the average marrying age is getting older. Why are people marrying later?
Prof. Cheon: The meaning and value of marriage and life have changed. Before, when the average education level of women was not as high as it is now, marriage was one of women's ultimate goals in life. Nevertheless, as women started receiving more education, their goals in life changed. Many women crave to succeed in life through their careers. They are ambitious compared to women in the past. Since marriage is more of a burden to women's careers, it is not a "must" anymore. It is even closer to a barrier in searching for their sense of self.
E.V.: How do you foresee the change in marriage trends?
Prof. Cheon: I think that the number of singles and cohabitating couples will increase. There will also be more couples where it is the man? first marriage and the woman's second marriage.
Also, the problem of disproportionate sex ratios in Korea will be serious. Around 2020 to 2030, the number of women will be greatly lower than the number of men, leading to polyandry, where one wife has several husbands.
E.V.: What is your opinion on marriage during student life, that is, marriage at an early age?
Prof. Cheon: Although there isn't a direct connection, I believe that there is a certain relation between age and maturity. When students marry at a young age, it is harder to cope with such serious vows since they are not yet mentally mature enough. There could be exceptions but studies show high divorce rate for early marriage.
E.V.: Various forms of mass media deal with early marriage. Although most women today delay marriage, why do you think this theme is so popular?
Prof. Cheon: People enjoy those themes because they have fantasies about love and marriage. Although people themselves are highly realistic and materialistic, their idealistic dreams are pursued by the media.