A new report shows that the number of so-called “wild goose fathers”, who remain in South Korea to work while sending their wife and child abroad for education, are increasing steadily by 20,000 every year. While the negative effect of prolonged separation between family members is a common subject in Korean media, the scale of the psychological and physical problems affecting these families came as a surprise.
In online reactions to surveys showing that 70% of wild goose fathers suffer from depression and 77% have inadequate nutrition, there was a sharp contrast between pity and scorn. Netizens sympathized with the strain of families living apart but also criticized the win-at-all-costs mindset that motivates parents to send their children to study overseas.
Article from Kyunghyang Newspaper:
20,000 more ‘Goose Families’ a year, 500,000 families living apart for sake of children’s education, a need to combat health and depression issues
There are still no solid statistics for so called ‘goose fathers,’ a popular Korean phrase describing fathers that stay in the country while their wives and children live for a time abroad for education, [Note: similar to the behavior of the wild goose in nature]. But there are statistics that can provide some estimates. The 2010 census reports that 1.15 million families have husbands and wives that live separately, representing 10% of the total number of married families. It is estimated that half of these families, about 500,000, are so called ‘goose families.’ Overseas students’ statistics from the Ministry of Education say that there has been an estimated increase of 20,000 cases of new ‘goose families’ each year from 2004 to 2011.
Ms. Cha emphasizes, “the high depression rates, lack of physical exercise, and lack of consumption of nutritious food is related to the amount of contact the fathers have with their families overseas…we need to prioritize treatment for depression, which is the biggest factor in the health and quality of life for goose fathers.
She added, “it is important to create community nursing programs that will diagnose depression in the early stages and implement mitigation strategies…we should also maintain exercise programs and counseling services to improve their psychological health.”
Surveys have also shown that the rate of alcohol dependency is high among goose fathers. Alcoholism treatment hospital Da Sarang Hospital and non-government organization and family advocate group Hi Family discovered that in 2007, 30% of ‘goose fathers’ (24 out of 80 surveyed), drank alcohol 2 or 3 times a week. They warn that these rates could worsen and even prove to be fatal if it is not treated.
Comments from Naver:
It was all their decision, why should we be responsible for it? I’d like to do it [educate my children overseas] too but I don’t have the money for it. And they all did it to be more special than others. Better off letting them live in their special way like they wanted.
I love you dad! yoo yoo
I swear if wives loved their husband they wouldn’t go abroad, just get a divorce instead of being a slave.
Improving the country’s university situation and returning to traditional family relations is the best solution.
I have a question for these ‘goose families,’ what if your children have goose families of their own in the future?
Be frugal with your kids, and let them go when it’s time for them to be independent. If it was me, I’d advise them to take care of their own business, instead of ruining healthy family relations for future university and job prospects, I guess we’ll have to see when we have kids of our own.
They chose that lifestyle themselves, why should we be responsible for it..
They chose their situation, now we have to solve it for them…
Government has to do everything it seems. Making money here then sending money abroad to have their kids get successful, why should the government get involved? Let them figure it out on their own. The goose families are in need of some self-reflection to see if they made the right decisions.
‘Goose fathers’ wake up from your fantasy, For what.. why are you sacrificing yourself? Let’s stop being greedy and live normal.