UPDATE : 2021.11.29 Mon 09:12
How “Marriage" has Changed Meaning
Picture of ‘no traditional marriage’

Marriage can be thought of as a system established by human nature but it is actually a system created by the formation of human society. It occurred from a social awareness that ‘human beings cannot live alone’. The marriage system was also created by the necessity of distinguishing between children and fathers in the primitive age when doing blood type tests and DNA tests were impossible. In particular, the marriage system has been very helpful for safe pregnancies and childbirth because humans have a long gestation period and a long childhood. In many civilizations, we saw that dividing men and women was not advantageous. In other words, marriage was an essential element of being an ‘improved human being’ and ‘fulfilling human nature’.

Single households are increasing in modern. There are various reasons for the increase in single households, but some of them focus on the harmful effects of the marriage system. Because of this exaggerated line, some people say, ‘there was no marriage system for humans in the original era’ or ‘marriage is a virtue and social violence’. There is also a view that marriage is no better than being single without regarding childbirth and child care.

Let’s suppose the president who is not married is living with his girlfriend at Cheong Wa-Dae. Should we treat the president’s girlfriend as the first lady? What would the Korean public say if he broke up with his girlfriend during his tenure and ended up dating a famous celebrity?

This situation actually happened in France. President Francois Hollande, who became the French leader in 2012, had four children and had been living with Segolene Royal, who was a presidential candidate in 2007, for 22 years. He broke up with Royal later and began to live with journalist Trierweiler. He also took her to the presidential residence, Elysee Palace, to play the role of first lady. After ending his relationship with Trierweiler in 2014, he began dating actress Julie Gaye.

This series of events would have been a big problem in Korea, but the French people didn’t seem to care much about it. According to a weekly poll of 1,025 adults, 77 percent of French people said that it was a personal matter for President Hollande. French National Statistical Office said that 31 percent of French citizens choose to live with a partner without getting married. Some analysts say that about 50 percent of newborns are believed to be born outside of marriage.

Most Western European countries as well as France already recognize cohabitation as a type of family. In many countries, it has the same legal protection as marriage. Even though a person becomes president or prime minister, their spouse is the object of protocol agony, not the yardstick for morality. Various forms of marriage are personal choices and the choice is rightly respected.

In fact, most of these countries have higher birthrates than the OECD average. As a result of recognizing various types of families without being tied to the traditional form of marriage, the birthrate has increased. This is because cohabiting couples can have children and receive almost the same support as married couples. According to the OECD’s 2008 survey, the total fertility rate (the number of children that a woman gives birth to in her lifetime) is generally high in countries where the proportion of extramarital births (50~60%) is high, including France, Britain, Norway and Denmark. Like these countries, Korean people have to think about this new form of marriage.

By Park-Junho, reporter

박준호  micheen12@naver.com

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