chapter  8
16 Pages

From foreign bride to ‘Korean’ mother

Managing feelings in modern South Korean marriages
WithAmalya Layla Ashman

This chapter considers how contemporary government policy has shaped the experiences of female marriage migrants to South Korea by projecting gender stereotypes and emotional expectations, more at home in the colonial era (1910–1945), to promote the ‘suffering Korean mother’ as an ideal expression of love in marriage. The chapter traces the discourse on love in modern South Korean history, beginning with the public debate on jayu yŏnae (free love) and jayu kyŏlhon (free marriage) in the 1920s. It argues that the government’s bureaucratic intervention today into the private lives of its citizens is an extension of neo-Confucian clan authority, which reveals a continuation of conservative values diminishing romantic love (sarang) in marriages in favour of affection (chŏng) and suffering (chŏnghan).