The Comparison of Women Social Status and Family Rights


The research paper investigates the history of the development of women’s rights in the society and in the family institution starting from the 1850 and up to the current times. It has stated the differences occurred in the development of women’s social status in China and South Korea through these years, and has identified the changes occurred. Moreover, the paper searched the data for the understanding of the family status of women now and then and documented the occurred changes. Therefore, it has shown how women had gained their possibilities to vote and to choose their husband, and to withdraw the traditions of Confucius in the modern history. The paper has two parts. The first one focuses on the investigation of women’s social status in China and South Korea, and the second one searches the issues of the family status of women in both countries. The aim of the research is to find out the similarities and differences between these two objectives and to summarize the future development of them.


The Comparison of Women Social Status and Family Rights in Korea and China from 1850 to Present

To date, China and South Korea are one of the most developed countries in the world. Seoul and Pekin are the representatives of a modern metropolis with a significant population density, which are also famous for the breakneck economic growth. The technology is truly ubiquitous, availability of the Internet is one of the highest in the world, and the press enjoys an enviable freedom. In other words, these two countries, which are in no way inferior to European standards. For only one exception. Despite the fact that religious beliefs do not have a special power, both communities up to this day are under the strong influence of Confucian precepts, including warrants and social model: respect for one's elders, respect for parents, and patriarchy. For the modern woman, it is not easy to find a place in this model. The research would focus on the two aspects of women's rights in the society. The first one is the comparison of the social status of women in China and South Korea, and the second one would focus on the investigation of the family role of women in both countries. The aim of the research is to find out the similarities and differences between these two objectives and to summarize the future development of them.

The Comparison of Women’s Social Status in China and South Korea

The Social Status of Women in China

The awareness of the Chinese government to the fact that women's rights are an integral and inalienable part of human rights, is leading to a new understanding of the content of women's rights, and the development of women's rights protection mechanisms. The public status of women in China has traditionally been low. The increasing of their role in society, which involves improving the social situation, is involving the solution of national problems. Therefore, the equality with males is one of the important directions of the state social policy today.

Nowadays, in China, women are no longer the same as before. They are called the liberated women of the East, and they are increasingly asserting their rights, occupy important positions in the party leadership, rush to the mines and to the controls of the aircraft. Traditional culture is leaving the city to the countryside away from supermarkets and freeways. Chinese village still lives in stories, adjusting to the traditional system of values of the higher party instructions and innovations of the twentieth century. For example, democracy in the country is the power of a large clan of little interest to the total disregard of the latter. The status of women has changed, perhaps, only in one direction. She used to be a commodity, and now she is a scarce commodity. In the villages, they are sorely lacking, and this issue is giving rise to a special kind of crime: the theft and sale of women. The poor peasant is cheaper to buy a wife of a distant village from the reseller, rather than spend money on the expensive wedding gifts and the bride's parents. Moreover, public opinion is more sympathetic to men than to women.

The complexity of tribal and clan relations in the village has given rise to a kind of a special form of marriage, in some ways similar to the tradition of marriage contracts, which is common in the West. As a rule, the suit begins with meetings of senior relatives of both families, which discusses and compares the property, the number of women in the groom's family, the potential size of the bride price.

Formally, the Constitution of China has granted women equal rights with men in all spheres of political, economic, cultural, social and family life. Adopted regulations that protect their rights and interests lies in the issues and the laws on marriage, inheritance of property, safeguards the rights and interests of women on maternal and child health protection. Moreover, Constitution focuses on the regulations on labor protection of women on the strict punishment of the criminals involved in the kidnapping and sale of women and children, on the prohibition of prostitution, as well as the relevant articles of the Criminal Code, the General civil rights situation of China, the civil Procedure Code and other normative documents. In 1980, China signed the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In 1990, it ratified the ILO Convention on equal pay for equal work for men and women.

In early 1995, the country for the first time in the history of the Chinese government has adopted a program of raising the status of women in the period 1995 – 2000. The special attention it is was paid to solving the most complex problems, such as improving their educational and professional level, an increase in the number of working women and their share among managers. Moreover, it has started the establishment of equal pay for equal work with men, the annual literacy to 3 million women, improving their health, care living in poor areas and others. To protect the rights and interests of women in the mid-90s on the ground began to create judicial chambers. In April 1995, the first of which appeared in the Shanxi Province, later the same chamber were set up in many local courts of the provinces of Hebei, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Henan, and Shaanxi.

The Social Status of Women in South Korea

As for South Korea, the Korean society is traditionally divided into four main classes. The Yangban are the nobles, and they had formed the ruling stratum and held all the key positions in the state. The Chungin are the representatives of the middle class, and they refer to the minor aristocracy and had hereditary rights to the high office and administrative positions in the central administrative apparatus and the right to the leading positions in the field. The next group is formed be the Sangmin, who are the commoners. They form the bulk of the population: farmers, anglers, artisans, traders, officials of lower rank and the other clerks. The Ch’ommin, who are the class of the vile folk, occupies the last position on the social ladder and they had owned by the state and feudal slaves the Kisaeng (professional actor), and butchers. The legal basis for this division was abolished in 1894, but relations were based on it persisted for a long time. During the period of Japanese colonial rule of the Korean traditional social structure of society actually ceased to exist.

In recent times, the elite in almost every sphere of life of Koreans is composed mostly of descendants of the Yangban. The marriages tend to be classed character. Spouses are usually selected from the same social group. Currently, men of low birth, who have achieved a high official position or wealth, and they may seek to intermarry their children through more noble-born families. A representative of the elite, no matter where he happened to be born, is associated with a specific clan, which has long associated itself with a particular geographical area (the so-called point system). An important element of social life are appointments, contacts, mutual assistance by the school, the clan and related lines.

Traditionally in Korea, women are inferior. In her youth, she obeys their parents, then her husband, and after his death – to her sons. At present, the South Korean women have equal rights with men. They work in enterprises and institutions and even occupy leadership positions. They were elected to the legislature and they work in the executive branch.

According to the constitution in 1948, equal rights with men have been given to women in South Korea. Since the 1960s, the proportion of women in socially useful work in the industry, an increasing number of women who have received higher education. All this contributed to the growth of their social identity. In the 1980s, South Korea was established governmental organizations that address issues related to the situation of women. However, at the household level is still strong traditional Confucian idea of the situation of women in the family and society.

The Similarities of the Social Status of Women in China and South Korea

The social status of women in China and South Korea was developing in the same direction and has many similarities. It is obvious that both countries had influenced the significant impact of the Confucian idea in the issue of developing the status of women in the society. Before the changes, which were caused by the Constitution both in China and South Korea, a woman in the society was nothing more than a mother of the children and the hostess in the house of man. The Constitution had changed this position of women, but for more than 40 years after that, women still sometimes suffer from the division between them and men. The social status of women in China is now on the highest positions, as women had gained the power to not only vote in the elections, but they now have the possibilities to take serious jobs and to choose the husband on their own. Nowadays women have the possibility of choice in every action they are doing, which is significant for their personal development. South Korea is also showing the stable results of the evolution of the women’s position in the society, as now they can have the possibility to choose their jobs, and to ask for a divorce. Still, both countries now are sometimes suffering because of the influence of traditions, especially beyond the big cities. Therefore, women have to do much more struggle for their rights than they have done in order to gain the equal position with men in the society.

The Comparison of Women’s Family Status in China and South Korea

The Family Status of Women in China

The family as a basic unit of society in China has always paid special attention. Confucius said that "the state - is a big family, and the family - it's a small country, and the world is in this state making a harmonious relationship of man and woman." Family in China as a major proprietary and economic unit provided social prestige of all its members and was considered as the main pillar of society, the foundation of stability and prosperity.

Policy reform and opening up started in 1978, and it has led to significant changes in the state and society. Following the success of the economy, politics and other areas of human activity have been changes in the family sphere, where the steps to reform family law, enacted laws, involving the observance of equal rights and mutual interests of all members of the family were taken. Adopted by the Chinese government in 2005, the theory of building a socialist harmonious society requires primarily social harmony as the main value reference point of modern Chinese society, where family matters are a priority. For women, marriage was virtually the only way of livelihood, children had formed the uniqueness meaning of their life, before marriage, they were dependent on his father, and then - from the husband, after her husband's death - from the eldest son. Confucius established notions of family has been unchanged for more than two millennia.

The Marriage Act 1950 outlawed the pre-existing system of family relations with the democratic and in principle alien to the mentality of the Chinese based the institution of marriage and family - free marriage, free divorce, equality of spouses in marriage, and monogamy. The changes in the social structure of the whole of Chinese society have led to a change in the traditional value orientations. In modern society, the traditional value orientations of women, which were marriage, family, children, has added new directions: education, profession, career, independence from parents and financial autonomy in marriage opportunities. They focus on peer relationships in the family, sharing housework and child rearing.

Age at marriage is often linked with the position of women in society and the family. Early marriages are due to the decision of the parents, also associated with phenomena such as interruption of studies, low levels of education, income, high birth rate and a high percentage of divorces. The freedom to choose a partner often reflects the position of women in the family structure. This is one of the components of freedom reached in the private sphere. Urbanization and modernization have led to an increase in the trend of freedom of choice of partner. It must be emphasized that young, educated women have more freedom in choosing a partner. Women in the age of 54 and older, 45-54 years, 25-44 years and under 25 years of freedom of choice as a percentage as follows: 43, 49, 68 and 83%, respectively, in women with primary, secondary and secondary - 49, 72 and 85%, respectively.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that the degree of marriage satisfaction is lower in women than in men. Although the degree of marriage satisfaction in women is relatively high, many mentioned that the relationship felt some neglect on the part of men, even in the absence of affirmative answers were given respect in the relationship itself. The main causes of these phenomena have become increasing demands on the quality of marriage, the level of expectations related to family life, the level of the requirements of the partner.

Due to the high loading of household duties, urban women have more rights in the family decision-making than their husbands. Sometimes it can disguise the fact that some men avoid family responsibilities and women are forced to take over the care of the house. In addition, the right of economic management is a measure independent of human will and freedom, and, perhaps, these indicators are more suitable for measuring the status of women in the family.

The Family Status of Women in South Korea

Each South Korean family is the family hearth, and family relationships are paramount. In the South Korean families, relationships between men and women have always been admirable mutual understanding, despite the fact that men will never help a woman in the house. In these families set clear and strict division of labor into male and female work. A woman in South Korea has the same rights as men, although there are some nuances, like in any other traditional family. Domestic affairs, maintaining a home and family relations is always borne by the woman. Only peace is dependent on her love and warmth, which should always be present in a normal family. The understanding between the members of the family depends on it, is the mistress of the house should do everything possible to ensure that every member of the family feels comfortable.

South Korean society and to this day are under the strong influence of Confucian precepts, including causing the country and the social model: respect for one's elders, respect for parents, patriarchy. For the modern woman, it is not easy to find a place in this model. However, Confucianism gradually receded into the background under the pressure of Western values. Ideas that only a woman's place in the kitchen, began to be questioned somewhere at the beginning of the XX century - whereas there was a significant influx of Christian missionaries, thanks to which began to spread of female education. However, the missionaries tried to pull Koreans mostly with food and drive to the church. Scale the emancipation began after the division of Korea. The movement for women's rights has gained momentum with the movement for the democratization of somewhere in the 1980s - at the time this was facilitated by the country's economic development, and improving the level of education in South Korea. Modern young Koreans often say they do not want to get married, to sit with the children and to cook and want to make a career. The average age of women at marriage is 29.8 years. However, the emancipation of women has led to a strong decrease in the birth rate. In terms of the fertility Republic of Korea in 2014 was the 220 th place out of 224 countries. Many Koreans are dissatisfied with the fact that they happened to be born women - 42.9% percent of girls dream of the next life to become men, men are dissatisfied with their sex just 12.6%.

If the battle for gender equality, the Western values won the traditional way, on the question of sexual freedom is not so clear. On the one hand, there is also won the West, that is just not the liberal ideas and the Christian worldview. That Christianity Koreans owe sexual enslavement (Christians are more than half the inhabitants of the country, about 2/3 of Protestant Christians, the rest Catholics). The average age of first sexual intercourse in South Korea is 23.9 years for women and 21.8 - for men.

As in most developed countries, in Korea, these days are not provided even a simple reproduction of the population. In 1960, the average Korean woman in his life gave birth to 6 times. In 1970, this figure fell to four, and the average level was 1.3 births per woman in 2002. Koreans are not too hurrying to have children; some of them want to live for themselves, while others are busy making a career and fortune. The population of Korea, however, continues to grow, but it happens only due to the continuing and still increasing life expectancy and a permanent reduction in mortality. It is expected that around 2030 the country's population will peak and then begin to taper off. The consequence of this will be the aging of the population, to which Korea is not ready yet.

Therefore, the Korean family in the form in which it existed all the post-war decades disappears. A thing of the past many of the traditions that have arisen in the pre-industrial, patriarchal times and have successfully gone through a decade of the economic miracle. New Korean family is the nucleus and few children. It is usually both spouses are working - housewives era rooted in the past. In other words, the new family is much closer to the family of the developed countries of the West.

The Similarities of the Family Status of Women in China and South Korea

As it is seen from the research, the position of women in the family has always been weak and dependent. In both China and South Korea, the position of women was identified through the lens of the deeds of her father and her husband. Men were always on the leading positions, and only through the last 50 years, the situation had started its development. Because of the China birth policy, right now, there are less women than needed, and they have understood their power and possibilities. Moreover, both in China and in South Korea women are looking for the renouncement from marriage, if they have other plans for their life. Nowadays they have this power, and it was gained for them only through their personal positions and efforts. Therefore, in the current times these are men, who have to fight for women, and to ask them for the share of their possibilities in order to form the family, as the new family status of women in China and in South Korea is freedom.


South Korea and China have many differences in them seem nowadays, but their development may seem rather similar. The traditional upbringing of both men and women had formed the understanding, which is still significant in the suburban areas of the countries. The highest status of men and their understanding of the nature of the rights of women is sometimes too eclectic to be present in the modern world. Therefore, women are fighting for their rights, so they could be the standard representation of the society without any differentiation with men. Those times, when a woman was practically a private property husband's family, passed. Women in China are now respected, strong reputation, the support of the whole society and its government. However, in order to change the position of Chinese and South Korean women in society and the family had taken a number of actions, which will focus on the study.

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