The times they are a-changin’ not just in Dulut but also in South Korea!! In the bus stops, no smoking campaigns! “Not not smoking is violence,” they say. On TV, ads that say it’s OK to not be a drunk dog at the company dinner — go home to your wife instead and bring her flowers and a teddy bear! TV ads to wear condoms! TV infomercials for dildos and other adult devices! TV ads for birth control pills! AND NOW — Korean women say “yes” to babies but “no” to husbands! (What’s next — a smoke-free workplace? Soap in all bathrooms? Could I be so lucky?)
By Bae Ji-sook
Korea Times Staff Reporter
Ethical and legal questions have been raised over another type of unmarried women _ called a “Miss Mom” in Korea _ who choose to have babies without being married, through either normal sexual intercourse or artificial insemination.
Radio presenter Her Soo-kyung announced last month that she is expecting a baby. She did not identify the baby’s father but just said it was a long expected event after undergoing artificial insemination a couple of times. She said “I have suffered from two divorces, and I believe in the power of motherhood more than anything else in bringing up a baby.”
After Her’s announcement, many people began to talk about whether the country should accept Miss Moms as a new type of a family or not. Also, a debate is heating up over whether single women getting sperm donations to have children is legal or not.
Miss Moms are different from single moms _ they deliberately have babies not necessarily by having sexual intercourse with a man, and they refuse to get married. The term first appeared on a TV drama “Bad Couple,’ showing a working woman battling against social prejudice to have a baby without a father to avoid the fuss of married life.
Her is the only one who has succeeded in being a Miss Mom in public, but she is not the only one hoping to do so. Opera diva Cho Soo-mi and actress Kim Cheong have previously said they too, want children, without necessarily having a husband.
It’s not only celebrities that think so. According to a survey by matchmaking company Sunoo, 17.7 percent of 316 single women replied that they would be happy having children without spouses.
According to the Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, there were 49,875 artificial insemination procedures conducted in 2005 with 1.5 percent of them conducted on women using sperm from men other than their spouses. It said there is a possibility that a sizeable portion of this 1.5 percent consisted of Miss Moms.
Hwang Eun-sook of the Korea Institute of Single Parents said that women being highly educated and economically independent from men created the syndrome. “They do not need men’s help and they think they’d rather stay single than pursue an unhappy marriage to have kids,” she said.
However, many people worry that Miss Moms would burden their children in the future.
“There is a perception that a family without a father is incomplete and the thought of women not providing fathers for their children, but just for their convenience is very dangerous. Their children will suffer from social prejudice,” Jang Hee-jin, a housewife in Seoul, said.
Older people were more concerned. “Sometimes people are lured by looking at movie stars or a few people in Western countries doing so. But even in those places, being a single mom is always difficult and being a Miss Mom will be worse,” a 61-year-old university professor said.
There are also questions as to whether single women should be legally allowed to undergo artificial insemination to have babies. The current law covers the procedure for married women, but has no regulations for those who are single.
There were 64 sperm banks in 2005 keeping sperm from 5,544 donors. Each facility has its own guidelines and none of them limit the qualification to “a legally married female.” Therefore, many doctors say single women having babies through artificial insemination is not illegal.
Since the Family Registration Law had been revised to allow children to use their mothers’ family names, many experts say there will be less legal or social obstacles to Miss Moms. “Regulating Miss Moms by law could infringe upon human rights,” Rep. Kim Choong-whan of the main opposition Grand National Party said.
“Whether people want it or not, a Miss Mom family will be a new type of family in Korea like a single parent family, divorced family, remarried family and adoptive family,” Hwang said.