Korean Nurses Forced to Adopt “Pregnancy Order System”

When women get pregnant, many companies in Korea seem to force them to quit their jobs. Nurses at hospitals are even asked to set an order of pregnancies so that they do not become pregnant at the same time. Even though the Korean government keeps presenting plans to promote childbirth, the amount of unfair treatment toward pregnant women has been increasing.

Article from SBS:

“Since you’re pregnant, get out.” Companies force pregnant women to quit.


There are many women who have experienced a lot unfair treatment due to pregnancy and childbirth. It is common to see a company persuade a woman to quit because of her pregnancy. The government has workplace-related policies in place to promote childbirth, but for an overwhelming amount of working women, these government policies are far from being the reality.


A professional in her late 20’s has been working at a small trading company for 4 years.

A half year ago, she was happy to find out that she was pregnant, but the happiness didn’t last long. After executives found out about her pregnancy, they told her to quit her job.”>

[A pregnant worker: They said they would be honest. As it was a burden to keep a pregnant women for such a small company like this, they said they wanted me to stop working.]

The Korean Women Workers Association analyzed the reported cases from this year and found that 25 women were fired due to pregnancy and/or childbirth.

There are still many women who can’t properly use maternity leave or parental leave.

[Eun-jeong Song / Direct of labor policy at the Korean Women Workers Association: There are many situations in which pregnant women give up taking legal action or fighting against the company. Therefore, these women are far more likely to become victims than ones from the found cases.]

According to current law, a company should give a pregnant woman 90 days holiday, and should not be allowed to fire her during the maternity leave or 30 days after the maternity leave.

Any business owner violating the law is supposed to be punished.

However, there are only a few owners who are actually punished for this.

[A representative from the Ministry of Employment and Labor: The situation is like this because we often ask them take corrective measures. If someone reports a company, first we ask for corrective measures.]

There’s no disadvantage for being told to take corrective measures and even if a company goes to trial, a company’s owner usually thinks everything is okay if the fine is paid. Therefore, lots of business owners don’t follow the law.

[Seung-ah Hong /Researcher at the Korean Women’s Development Institute: A company should understand it as their natural responsibility to offer maternity or parental leave to workers, and not to think of it only in terms of money.]

Most of all, experts emphasize that supervision of management and punishment for business owners should be strengthened.

Also, they advise that for small companies, additional supportive measures including raising a support fund for substitute workers, should be put in place at the same time.

Comments from Daum:


This is what the Ministry of Gender should manage. They are doing stupid things like making female-only parking spaces and libraries, or the military point system. So far what have they done with our blood taxes? They only support voluntary sex workers.


This is why people don’t have babies. A law without compulsion, psht.


Korea, the country that makes living suffocating.


If a woman is pregnant, can’t she work?


I knew there were no measures that would go down well.


These people are uncomfortable seeing the female colleagues use maternity leave, but they want their own wives to have a baby and work at the same time. So greedy.

facebook 최시연:

The Korean government asks people to raise the birth rate over 2.1, but in reality women get fired when they get pregnant.


Don’t have a baby in Korea. It is a bad decision and Korea isn’t a good environment for raising them. How about the chaebol have 20 kids each.


So is it all over if women don’t have a baby and keep working? If she is working hard without babies for her career, she is considered selfish. If she has a baby and becomes the best at her job, but she can’t take care of her child due to working at night, she is labeled an unqualified mother. If she works not too hard while taking good care of her child, she is forced to quit. So then, isn’t a marriage a woman’s grave?


Women working at companies to make extra money for their family are criticized that their pregnancy is causing harm at work. If they are at home and not working, people say they are taking advantage of men. Poor Korean women.yoo yoo.


This is why many people want to work at big companies and public institutions after all. Damn assholes, is it a crime to have a baby?


Don’t force women to have babies then.


Bad people. Companies drive female workers too hard when they are pretty and young and don’t pay them a lot. These companies have no conscience!


It is for them natural to think pregnant women shouldn’t work, however, women who are not working are considered insensible women.


However hard you try to write this kind of article, there are so many assholes who blame only women for the low birthrate. If we blame the Korean government, they will laugh at us for blame-shifting, too.


Who even wants to have a baby in this situation?


The Korean government promotes childbirth, but what does it do for women after they give birth?


Now you know why moms kept asking you to go to a university of education.

Article from SBS:

“Is it your turn?” The “pregnant order system” causes heartbreak for nurses.


Have you heard about the “pregnancy order system’? It means a hospital sets a pregnant order among nurses to prevent pregnancies occurring all at the same time, which negatively effects the hospital. Despite government policies to promote childbirth, in reality this kind of unethical practice continues. Mr. Lee reports.


3 years ago, 4 nurses became pregnant within a month of each other in the same hospital.

However, the first comment to one of the nurses, who became pregnant with much difficulty, was to ask, “Was it your turn?”

[Nurse who experienced the pregnancy order system: Though having a baby is something to be celebrated, the department head or other executives said things like, “Is it your turn?”, “Do you really have to have a baby this time? Haven’t you thought about causing trouble for others?”]

During her entire pregnancy, she kept being scolded by the head nurse. She was told she was causing trouble at work by mixing up the order.

[Another nurse who experienced a pregnancy order system: The head nurse kept hassling me saying, “Give me an alternative,” up until the day I gave birth to my child. This is a huge ethical issue for pregnant women and the protection of motherhood.]

The so-called “pregnancy order system” is an open secret among nurses.

If high rank officials at a hospital give a tacit order such as, “The head nurse must set up a pregnancy order system so as not to make any trouble,” nurses who are planning to have a baby must decide on the order of their pregnancies amongst themselves.

One nurse even had a secret abortion for fear of being held responsible when she became pregnant out of turn.

[Nurse who terminated her pregnancy: It’s a sad story. How can the head nurse put up with a nurse who is having morning sickness? I had an abortion after 12 weeks.]

Results of a survey from the National Health and Medical Treatment Labor Union show that 1 out of 5 nurses has experienced this pregnancy order system.

Nurses work an average of 10 hours a day, and 22% of pregnant nurses said they had worked overtime.

The rate of miscarriage or abortion has reached 18.7%.

Shortages in the labor force and irregular working hours such as working 3 shifts in a row, leading to overnight work, has led to the immoral practice of using a pregnancy order system.

[Ji-hyun, Yoo/Chairperson of the National Health and Medical Treatment Labor Union: What is needed are practical, dynamic policies for the protection of motherhood and more recruitment.

Though supporting childbirth has become a national goal, hospitals are risking violating human rights by limiting the right to pregnancy and childbirth.

Comments from Daum:


This is so inhumane. I’m shocked to know this kind of thing is happening.


Saenuri Party is killing children and then supporting multiculturalism.


Korea is an uncivilized country without hope where the value of life is ignored.


This country is full of insane people. This is why there is a shortage of nurses. Who wants to work in that environment? They should stop saying “have a baby” and make an environment good for having a baby,eo-hyu.


This news comes out regularly from few years ago. But there’s nothing about change or alternatives. It’s just the same story as always.


Korea is the most underdeveloped of countries, caring only about appearances.


If someone is pregnant, she is legally not allowed to work overtime or at night. Instead of hiring a substitutive worker, hospitals let other workers do [the extra work] themselves, which has caused this situation.


Is this the reality Korean hospitals meant to treat people?


This is all because there are only idiots at the Ministry of Health and Welfare. If a hospital can’t meet the standard of hiring workers, the National Health Insurance Corporation and Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service is supposed to cut the budget of the hospital. Even when a hospital can’t meet the hiring standard due to pregnancy and childbirth of its doctors and nurses, these two corporations don’t regard those cases as exceptions. That’s why hospital owners give shit to female doctors and nurses when they get pregnant or give birth. If someone from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, National Health Insurance Corporation and Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service gets pregnant, I hope she will be treated the same way they treat others.


Women are their own worst enemies.


This is when temporary workers are needed. This shit country only hires temporary workers when it wants to spend less on hiring. I heard temporary workers in other countries get paid more than in Korea.


Many high school students choose the Department of Nursing Science at university after finishing their [Korean] SAT. It’s easy for them to get a job in a big hospital in Seoul or the nearest big city even if they graduated from a non-Seoul university or a professional college. Why do they choose to be nurses? They ignore the fact that when it is easy to get a job, it means the turnover rate is high!


It said this is a tacit order from high ranking officials at hospitals. Read the article before writing a comment. It isn’t a problem of only women or nurses. The basic problem is that high ranking officials shift their own responsibility onto the weak for their own benefit.


I know it hardly happens but let’s say there are 10 female workers in a company where at least 8 people are needed for the business. But if 5 out of 10 women get pregnant, who is supposed to work? If you’ve ever had an office job, you know that when one or two workers have a day off, it is a hard week for the others. If workers have a holiday for months, the people left in the office are really struggling. I understand the situation is unethical but I don’t think we can blame workers. Instead, higher ranking officials who don’t improve this situation should be blamed.


A pregnancy order system? I think Korea is the only country in the entire world that has this system. I’m speechless. How could this sort of thing happen? Nurses must have followed the rules because they were afraid of losing their jobs. Even if treatment towards women workers in Korea is better than before, it’s got a long way to go. If they want to be treated well, women need professinal jobs. Any other job won’t be respected.

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  • Andrew

    Why do Koreans complain so much about everything? It’s nothing but complain complain and more complain. Japanese people don’t do this at all despite having similar problems, and they seem much more happier. Koreans need to learn to smile a little and stop grumbling so much about how much your life sucks so much. Life isn’t always going to be perfect the way you want them to be.

    • First and foremost fuck Japan
      Second if you’re not trolling you must be the best slave on the plantation good for you my nigga
      I’ll let homeboy chucky finish you off

    • seno

      japan has the advantage that otaku males are happier, in being obsessed with everything
      especially anime and manga. banzi has the misfortune of being normal

    • Small twon

      Koreans learned that from native English teachers . To my best knowledge, that’s their favorite hobby in Asia .

      • guest

        You never had the makings of a varsity athlete.

    • Korea is shit and so is Japan

      Hurr Japan is so amazing hurr!

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      Because Koreans acknowledge the problem exists and want to fix it.

      Japanese are so disciplined to keep their heads down and let the system exploit them. They are plenty mad about it, but not as outspoken.

      Basically if you piss off the Korean, he’ll kick you in the chest. You piss of the Japanese, he’ll smile gently at you while plotting how best to murder you.

      • Jang

        I disagree with your first sentence. If that were true then there would be more than this…do you actually believe only 25 women were fired?

        “The Korean Women Workers Association analyzed the reported cases
        from this year and found that 25 women were fired due to pregnancy
        and/or childbirth.”

        A Korean woman can’t get a legal abortion in S. Korea(so MANY go to China) and they get fired for being pregnant.

      • Martin Hinojosa

        Japan has the same problem with pregnancy as well. They have a low birth rate, are encouraged by their government to make babies. But once that happens they have to quit their jobs. Hell in many cases, the Japanese managers tell their female employees to let them know in advanced when they plan to get pregnant. It’s the same Japan and Korea.

        • Toons

          Never knew that since I never heard any Japanese complain.

    • x1sfg

      2chan. Argument ended.

  • post.human

    Don’t they have lawyers in Korea?

    • Small twon

      Too many and those law sharks always go to the potential highest bidder…which is the hospital.

    • kari

      What can lawyers do if there’s no law being violated? Is there anything like Title VII in Korea? If not, then lawyers could not do anything about this.

  • 금정산

    I’ve noticed a release of more KoreaBANG articles than usual in this past week. A big thank-you to the volunteer translators.

  • 금정산

    I really do feel very sorry for Korean women. This is just one of the many reasons why.

  • Yaminah Jamison

    There’s just too much hostility for any woman being comfortable getting pregnant. I just think it’s interesting that it’s a “burden” to have pregnant workers still work, while so many females I know personally probably worked more than non pregnant workers… some even picking up extra shifts. Being pregnant isn’t a disease; it had existed since the beginning of time. So why not adjust/accomdate to something that naturally is suppose to happen rather than asking for unnatural and non beneficial requests?

    “Our birthrate dropped but… let’s not do anything to enforce people to have kids.” These laws needs to be enforced and should have someone go in these companies to make sure they are. Government can’t complain about an issue but do nothing about it.

    • David

      You must be pretty young. That is exactly what government is best at, complaining about a situation while putting off doing anything about it.

      • Yaminah Jamison

        …it’s not much about me being young. It’s an observation on how one country seems to be as I think of my own and think of the people I know who will get what they are suppose to get.

  • Bingsu

    All of this discrimination against pregnant (and non pregnant women) in the workplace, yet the government is still begging couples to have children. Women basically have to choose one or the other. It’s no mystery why this country has one of the lowest birthrates in the world.

  • elizabeth

    A sign that the Ministry of Labor isn’t delivering?

    • 금정산

      That’s a good one!

      • elizabeth


  • I hate Korea

    “Saenuri Party is killing children and then supporting multiculturalism.”

    Cool Racism.
    Korea is a shit hole.

  • commander

    The two main articles fail to identify why employers discriminate against expectant female workers.

    Is there anyone knowing what’s responsible for this discriminatory practice?

    • 금정산

      My guess would be a combination of things. A competitive job searching environment which favours the employer who can always replace you. A dominant neo-liberalist political environment which uses the perceived threat of economic meltdown to subdue labor movements and worker rights. And a sparkling, glittering Confucian culture which until recent history dictated that a woman should be a 집사람 and subservient to the man.

      • commander

        You think the forced resignation for the expecting woman workers are a result of competition in the job market becoming more fierce given the Confucian culture has been constant variable in the nation, not a new factor?

        And as you may know, Confucianism has no discrimination, the gender discrimination can be traced to late Choseon era when ruling class, called Yangban, installed discriminatory practices when they senses their power basis was being eroded by the emergence of a new class of rich merchants and other successful farmers who run a massive farmland.

        So, it may be not right to attribute widespread gender discrimination to Confucianism itself.

        • 금정산

          I would say forcing women to resign comes primarily from the lack of worker’s rights.

          The husband-wife relationship is one of the five principal relationships in Confucianism. It says the woman is less than the man and this attitude makes people think of women as lesser beings which leads to discrimination.

          • commander

            I think that concept is a Korean invention which doesn’t come into being in China because you can find that women in China, a birth place of Confucianism, enjoy freedom equal to men, and in some cases, husband do more house chores for wives.

            Since the Confucianism that is peculiar to South Korea has been existent, it’s hard to explain why the corporate pressure on pregnant women to resign comes as a problem at this particular time.

          • 금정산

            Confucianism originated in China but had been deliberately replaced by the “The Three Principles” and then Maoism. This is why modern Japan and Korea are more “Confucian” than China. Korea is regarded as the country with the strongest remnants of Confucianism. Such remnants include social relations such as honorific speech, who pays for the group dinner and who does the dishes.

            Confucianism emphasised that a woman’s place is in the home. I think this mentality is still held by the old male farts who pressure women to resign once they become pregnant.

          • takasar1

            the chinese scoff at confucianism, both publicly and privately. my university friends/colleagues deem it ‘the most naive cultural invention that has ever come out of china’.

    • Yaminah Jamison

      Because it’s one more employee that they may not be able to outright fire but have to hold their place, which could’ve been replaced by someone not pregnant. They may not be able to work overtime because of their “condition” or they may seem like a burden because they may not be able to complete all work because of morning sickness, sickness or effects due to pregnancy and what they may feel as full capacity.

      It’s my speculation anyway. But I get the hunch that people who seem to pale be a burden to the rest of the team may be a problem. Like why they may not exactly like moms working since it’s the females stereotypical duty to take care of the home/children. If a child is sick and they gotta take off, I guess that’s a burden and someone gotta make up the work. Since Korea is a homogenous county, I can see that as plausible.

      • commander

        As far as I know, the maternity leave is three months, and the first two months are paid leave, while the last third is not, and the government gives a certain amount of subsidy to firms over paid maternity leave.

        The cost of recruiting new employees may exceed the cost of paid maternity leave for firms.

        Though my surmise needs verification, I think the financial fact can’t give a full account of the reason employers push women in pregnancy to quit their jobs.

        • Yaminah Jamison

          Well a supposed women’s duty is h her home. That’s when the gender roles come into play. Inconveniences and such. At least, that’s how I can see it being taken in Korea. But if companies can’t even be compliant with the law, why would they wanna go through the whole procedures of maternity leave? Isn’t there some leave for females when they get their periods? How many really take off for that and hire many feel threaten and scared to take off? I just see it as the “letting your team down and putting more work on others.” The whole for the greater good thing. It’s only my observation though.

  • Ken Morgan

    Same same everywhere. The UK has laws against this kind of thing, but all that happens is bosses (men AND women) simply don’t hire women of child bearing age.

  • Xman2014

    There is currently a movement to use the special housing fund and the old age pension fund to allow newly wed couples to buy their first homes. The new homes could be purchased through the funds that the couples are paying into, and will also be partially subsidized by the government. This is to fight the low birth rate and low marriage rate. It’s a carrot that is dangled in front of people to get married and give more births.

  • Xio Gen

    Reverse discrimination, eh?

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