‘Wild Goose Fathers’ Increasing, 70% Depressed, Malnourished

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.

Results from 2012 survey of "goose fathers" 1.	Rates of depression: 70.2% depression, 29.8% normal (note – there is a mistake here in the Korean text, the Korean text states that 29.8% feel depression) 2.	Nutrition: inadequate 76.8%, normal 14.6%, satisfactory 8.6%, very satisfactory 0% 3.	Exercise: none 11.3%, once a week 37.8%, 2 or 3 times a week 28.5%, 4 or 5 times a week 15.2%, almost every day 7.3%

Results from 2012 survey of “goose fathers”
1. Rates of depression: 70.2% depression, 29.8% normal (note – there is a mistake here in the Korean text, the Korean text states that 29.8% feel depression)
2. Nutrition: inadequate 76.8%, normal 14.6%, satisfactory 8.6%, very satisfactory 0%
3. Exercise: none 11.3%, once a week 37.8%, 2 or 3 times a week 28.5%, 4 or 5 times a week 15.2%, almost every day 7.3%

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.

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  • David

    Wow, pretty amazed that the numbers have gotten so big over the years. I have not really kept up on this.

    • Boris

      Usually in third world countries it is parent (usually the father but sometimes the mother) that goes abroad to earn cash and send it back so the family can put food on the plate, pay for bills/goods and get an education and decent medical care (for the level of that country). In these sorts the family understand the situation. The kids do. But I do not know the psychological effects on the family as I haven’t read up any reports on the matter.

      Sending kids abroad into an Alien environment can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for the kids. This can cause long term negative effect. As long as they have the right support i guess it could work.

      I had a co-worker who told me about her friend. Her friend had adopted two Korean kids. One male and the other female. While the former adapted well and now you could hardly tell he was foreign (e.g. into American Football) the other didn’t and believed her life would have been better if she had lived in Korea. I don’t know the exacts of the situation but these sort of situations will and do arrise.

      • Anthony M Ludovici

        Disappoints me a bit that so many white parents who want to adopt ignore our own kind. Our altruism will be the death of us.

        • David

          I will assume it was your comment to me above also so I will answer here. In most western countries it is very difficult and expensive to adopt a baby (of any race). It can take years and cost many thousands of dollars in the U.S. to adopt a child. In addition the number of babies (as opposed to children) available for adoption in the U.S. is limited. Unless you have a prearranged adoption it can be a long traumatic experience. Other, poorer countries, often have less stringent adoption laws, some are still white babies such as in Russia). Adopting a baby from Africa or Asia can be much quicker (relativity) than waiting in the U.S. After all, having a baby is the important part to those couples who want a family, not the color of the child.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            “not the color of the child”

            Actually numerous studies show that the child’s race is of importance to most couples looking to adopt and that this is more pronounced amongst non-white couples too.

        • David

          Also, the last time I looked, white people were not an endangered species.

          • bigmamat

            I’d say neither are Asians but it doesn’t make sense to adopt kids outside of your country if you can adopt within.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            Whites have below replacement fertility rates and mass immigration to every single one of their homelands. Asians have the former, but not the latter. You do the math.

          • bigmamat

            Which Asians because I’ve been reading a lot lately about the problem of low birth rates in Korea and Japan. India however and I would assume several southeast asian countries do not suffer from the same problem.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            All NE Asian countries have low birth rates.

          • ChuckRamone

            Are you one of those guys who goes around posting “Multiculturalism is white genocide” all over the Internet?

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            It’s racial replacement. The end result is no white majority countries.

          • piratariaazul

            Yes, we all know what will happen if we let too many of “those” people in…. You know, “those” people — Dark and swarmy. Lacking in Protestant work ethics. No self control & popping out too many kids. Love partying, singing, dancing – but always avoiding hard work. Lacking democratic values. Catholic/papist. No shame of being on the public dole. From countries with no democratic traditions….

            Yes, y’all know whom we talking about — those Italian immigrants swarming through the Ellis Island gates circa 1900’s. Bear in mind that they were not considered quite “white”.

            But as Justice Scalia can probably attest, those dark and swarmy Italian hordes didn’t do so badly in America after all. Don’t you agree, Mr. Ludovici?

          • piratariaazul

            …. and if you go further back a few decades, the swarm of “non whites” invading the shores of America and changing its culture were the … Irish. (See “How the Irish Became White,” by Noel Ignatiev).

            So, which “non white” invasion you were concerned about this time around?

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            I think debate about the perceived whiteness of Italians was always polarized to some degree, it’s not as clear cut as contemporary liberals like to point out, there were many people who defended Italians as part of a wider European family and thus white, and so on.

            Anyway, that’s besides the point, the real issue here is that you think singular examples of good immigrants justify a permissive immigration system, it doesn’t, in fact it justifies the opposite.

          • David

            Anthony, I don’t know where your from but I am from the U.S. we like lots of people from everywhere to come here, we are a nation of immigrants (as long as they do it legally). I don’t think we have the same vision of our countries. I don’t love America because it has white people in it (although I am considered white, when my father came here in 1931 as a child from Italy he was not) I love t because of the freedoms I enjoy there. Unless somebody is passing laws against white people some time soon I am sure it will still be the same when I get back to it.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            >Unless somebody is passing laws against white people

            They don’t need to. Look at how little attention black on white hate crimes receive compared to nonsense like the Trayvon Martin case.

          • David

            Yes, but the vast majority of black crime is still black on black. Why are you even on this website? Shouldn’t you be on the “White power” site?

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            You’re missing the point. The narrative of racial violence in the US media is almost entirely white on black, it gives people a completely skewed perspective as to the actual realities of interracial violence.

          • bigmamat

            Nobody is missing your point mein fuhrer. You’re one of those whiny terrified white guys. Woe is me the dark people are taking over the world.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            “mein fuhrer”

            The more you completely random people of being nazis, the less emotional resonance the term carries. Eventually you’ll exhaust it of all meaning and nobody will care about being called, or insinuated to be a nazi full stop. Is that what you want?

            “You’re one of those whiny terrified white guys.”

            No, I just recognize that the picture the US media paints of interracial violence. Of one where blacks live in abject terror of gun wielding mestizo men who occasionally moonlight as whites when necessary, is absurd.

          • bigmamat

            Mestizo, did you just refer to George Zimmerman as mestizo? Damn dude! I haven’t heard that term since I was a kid. My stepfather used to use it along with chink, wap, kike, heeb, and nigger. Obviously he was a great guy, real family values kind of fellow.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            “did you just refer to George Zimmerman as mestizo?”

            Yes, “Hispanic” is not a racial term and can refer to anyone from pure Amerindians to pure Europeans and everything inbetween. Zimmerman is part European, part Amerindian – Hence mestizo.

            I like using words that carry real, definable meanings, as opposed to words like “bigot”, “racist”, “hater” and so on that are generally used to defame one’s opponents and carry no meaning or utility whatsoever


            Perhaps a therapist would be a better place for airing your daddy issues, rather than the comments section of koreabang?

          • bigmamat

            So you’d call Obama what a mulatto? I probably could have used a little therapy 20 or 30 years ago at this point it’s too late. When I was 9 my mother remarried. Up until that point I had been raised by two gentile southern ladies that never cussed and never really said anything negative about anyone other than black people. Although it wasn’t their fault that they were black they were still different and not like us. Then my stepfather, wonderful human being that he was, introduced me to all forms of bigotry. He also taught me how to cuss. Every night he read the newspaper out loud and commented about the jews this and the niggers that, and waps and the spicks and how everyone but him was ruining our country. He showed me that women indeed are the weaker sex since my mother and I never could actually win against his fist. Nine years later when she was finally able to leave I learned money can buy you all kinds of justice if you have enough of it. So yeah maybe I did need a little therapy but back in those days but poor white people didn’t go to shrinks. They probably still don’t.

            So you’ll have to forgive me if your use of 5 dollar words and archaic racial references don’t really impress me much. No matter how hard you try to pretty it up it’s still the same old song. It’s the lament of the terrified white guy afraid he’s lost his place at the top of the food chain. Don’t worry dude, white guys still pretty much control the planet.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            Obama is a mulatto. Unless you prefer completely nondescript, useless words like “mixed” that convey absolutely nothing about his ancestry. But hey, to hell with descriptive language that actually has meaning behind it, let’s just argue about who has committed more thoughtcrimes using neologisms all day.

            As for the rest of your post, like I’ve told you man: Seek therapy. This isn’t the right arena.

          • bigmamat

            Man you really have no idea how creepy you are do you? I bet you have holes all over you where people have been touching you with their 10 ft.. poles. Yuck.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            I’m not the one airing my family issues on the comments section of a blog.

          • RacistBigotsAreBozos

            Thank you for being so precise ! So if Obama is mulatto it means one of his parents is white which means he was actually born in america, which means his birth certificates are legitimate as is his presidency. So all this while right wing birthers were simply lying sacks of fecal matter – thanks for proving the point !

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            You’re attacking a strawman. Ius Soli makes citizenship meaningless anyway so I don’t give two fucks where Obama was born.

          • Yaminah Jamison

            ….if you wanna go that direction, terms like ‘black’ and ‘white’ aren’t real racial terms either. Majority of black people in the US are of mixed ethnicities, race, whatever you wanna call it and the same could be said about whites due to passing and living as ‘white.’ So what really is ‘black?’ What really is ‘white?’ (nowadays Italians, are considered white… they weren’t last century but still held a higher place than blacks. Weren’t Irish considered not white over in Europe some time ago or something? All those ‘Middle-East’ countries where people fight over who is considered ‘white’ and not…. give me a break)Getting into so-called ‘technicalities’ of what’s a racial term or not will just all prove how all of it is a bunch of bull and pretty much the ideas of what some ignorant people years and years and years ago came up with just to spread more segregation.

            I’m surprised terms like “Negroid” and “Caucasoid” haven’t popped up in your comments yet.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            I use the term “white” as a synonym for Europid.

            Your point is something of a continuum fallacy. The existence of continuums does not preclude the existence of discrete groups within them.

          • David

            Your right, I miss the point. Why don’t you explain what that has to do with Korean fathers making living? Troll.

          • RacistBigotsAreBozos

            its your mind, as marinated in racism as it is, that thinks trayvon martin case is about white on black hate crimes…
            its actually primarily about gun right controls and the horrendous stand-your-ground-laws

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            You do realize that “stand your ground” laws were not invoked as part of Zimm’s defense right?

            In any event, I think it’s more worth paying attention to the trend of “knockout games” performed largely by urban blacks against non-black victims and which have so far claimed 3 lives. Of course, that will never receive anything like the kind of media reporting that Martin’s case did. We all know why.

        • mr.wiener

          We perpetuate our culture, not our race. I think in the long run it will endure the longest.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            If you change the racial makeup of a given polity, you change its culture.

            America used to be primarily Anglo-Saxon, its character was almost entirely Anglo-Saxon as a result. It lost that when the German migrants came over, what took its place was a wider Germanic culture. Likewise for the later European immigrants, it took on a European culture and lost its primarily Germanic culture.

            To pretend culture is an interchangeable life jacket that people take off when they arrive at the visa check in desk at an airport is absurd.

    • Guest

      Disappoints me a bit so many white parents pass up their own kind to adopt a non-white child. Our altruism will be the death of us.

  • commander

    Psychological disorder for goose fathers offers another reason why South Korea n government should step up the quality of public education.

    After all, if South Korean public schooling provide effective education to students, few parents will decide to live apart for children’s education.

    The main reason for children to go overseas for studying is presumably English learning.

    Many parents consider proficiency in English as crucial in their children’s future career prospects no matter what field their children choose to build their careers.

    The enormous financial burden fathers have to shoulder while they are not only psychologically unprepared for loneliness but also are not financially ready for retirement life can ve ruinous for goose families in the long run.

    • Joey

      Maybe it’s not just about learning English, but because the Korean education system is 20 years of soul-crushing.

      • Brett

        Yeah, but commander is right. Parents don’t think about the hardships as much as they do English education.

        Otherwise, how could you account for the $3,000/year on private schools and tutoring paid for by most urban and suburban households?

        Most likely the families are in the Philippines, USA, Canada, or UK. Too far apart to see each other but once or twice per year.

        It’s not what the families are doing that is messed up, as much as the Korean education and expectation systems are set-up.

        • Guest23

          Can attest to families coming here. lots of Korean students here in the Philippines studying English, most of the reasons they tell is the education system back home and severe disciplinarian method, funny thing is most didn’t know that English is the second official language here and they mostly act surprised and also lots of Phil-Korean schools springing out too.

          And they are pretty easy with the economy here, think I had a conversation with a father that he’s doing well with his new business and spending a lot of quality time with his family.

  • ChuckRamone

    I agree they should focus on strengthening their domestic schools. Having prestigious schools would be better for national strength than just sending your kids away. Another thing Korean society could benefit from is having families be a little less competitive with one another. “Keeping up with the Joneses” takes on a whole new meaning with Korean families.

  • KCdude

    The nation’s education system is breaking the traditional family structure at an alarming rate.

  • Butsu

    Getting a divorce would put ‘mental strain’ on the kids…but seeing them only once or twice a year is somehow fine because they’re still a “family”. Sorry for shoehorning this in here but I couldn’t contain myself.

    • Mighty曹

      True. The thought of family unity overcomes physical separation. Especially in the age of Skype.

  • chucky3176

    The South Korean government should levy a special huge tax on any families studying overseas. Like a 300% tax on foreign school tuitions should to it. That should wipe out the competitive rush out to get an extra leg up on the competition. The taxes should be used to address the economic costs to the country, as well as the social costs caused by this insanity, stupidity, and waste.

    Then totally open up the education market to foreign competition, invite overseas schools to set up in Korea. Not just universities, but all private education should be opened to foreign competition.

    • Boris

      Korea already has plenty of Hagwons. The only thing that would happen is that there will be foreign Hagwons (e.g. Disney English in China). These won’t solve the problem. All it will do is those who cannot pay the tax to either move abroad and become citizens of their host nation or stay and suffer the usual slog for ‘education’ in Korea.

      • chucky3176

        I change my mind. Outlaw all Hagwon’s. Raise taxes (the money that would have gone to Hagwon’s), and turn all public schools into the standards as Korea’s school for foreigners – the ones that Koreans would even kill, lie, and bribe, to get into.

        • Brett

          That would go against capitalism. Better to tax Hammons more. The translation for “hagwon” shouldn’t be “Academy” anyway… It should be “cheat school” considering most just teach you formulas to get better grades on your English tests.

          • bigmamat

            Is English the only thing studied at Hagwon? I was under the impression that you could take just about anything there that is necessary for the test. I was also under the impression that a lot of hagwon were nothing more than test prep schools. Certainly the only thing on the test isn’t english.

          • Brett

            It depends which hagwon and which test.

            Elementary students learn basic sentence structure and vocabulary. I actually think they get the best education of all grade levels. Middle and high school students have their big exams so they get taught how to cheat the exam. Most don’t get taught how to speak or use English. These hagwons also usuallyhaveat least math and maybe Korean as well.

            College students and adults studying for TOEIC or TOFL just get taught grammar formulas to speed through the exams. Many are paying to pass a test, not learn English.

            Point is, a lot of hagwons make huge money and students are no better prepared to use English when they start a job.

          • bigmamat

            Don’t feel bad. College track education in the U.S. includes 2nd language instruction that ends up much the same. So really the importance put on English language instruction in Korea is pretty baseless. I’ve often wondered how useful English is to the average college educated Korean once they enter the workforce anyway. I know it’s the “international language of commerce” but how many cubicle squatters are actually using all the English education. I was thinking there couldn’t be many.

        • David

          Actually the Korean government subsidizes Koreans living and going to school overseas. At my Korean international school in China, not only is the tuition cost (it is a private school so costs a lot) partially subsidized from the Korean government, so is part of the salary paid to Koren teachers who work here and part of the operation cost of the school itself. so, while they bemoan this problem they are either really unaware of it, don’t mind the problem, or think they are helping by doing this.

  • bigmamat

    Just this week I saw the figure was 70,000 Korean kids are going to college in the U.S. The article said the figure was actually down from previous years. I’ve been reading about S.Korea for about a year. It’s hard to decide from the information available if the Korean education system is broken or if the hyper competitive state of Korean education culture is the cause. There are multitudes of expat blogs bemoaning the state of Korean education. Then there are a few that don’t choose to focus on the negative aspects of ESL teachers in Korea but the large majority are very critical.

    I could be wrong but I’m inclined to believe that no public education system would be able to address the demands of the modern Korean parent. I am often confused as to why any high school student would need to study for 18 hours a day. What is it these students are learning that requires that much devotion to study? Just how difficult is the Korean SAT? What level of knowledge is required to occupy a seat in some cubicle at a company that employs thousands of workers? Recent statistics show that the average Korean makes 36,500 a year. How are Korean parents paying for all of this, education? What outcome do they expect to achieve? I am very confused as to how pervasive this problem exactly is and most of all what the hell are these kids studying?

    • commander

      The media’s reports on South Korea’s education are sometimes sensational.

      The annual spending for private tutoring on average is not a reliable indicator of the obsession with education, as the average figure can be exaggerated easily.

      For example, there are three parents who spend 1,1 and 100 on their children’s private education. But the average expenditure is 34, a number that is not representative.

      The increasingly polarized wealth distribution is resonsible for skewed statistical data.

      Second, what is left unsaid is that many students do not listen to teachers in class. Sometimes more than half of students in class are asleep in class.

      The tightly scheduled curricula and poorly qualified reachers are partly reaponsible for the dozing off in class.

      But many stduents have no passion for the learning.

      Of course, there are some students who want to keep up with lectures.

      But they failed because they have the academic basis for the ongoing lectures as they have long neglected learning.

      My point is that although South Korean education system is severly flawed, but it is worng to lay the entire blame on systems.

      After all, life is hard in that everyone has to bear their own share of ordeal in life.

      With high education the primary precondition for escape out of generation-transferred poverty, in a realistic sense, students seek a way of the fittest of survival, a cruel trait that I think will remain unchanged.

      • bigmamat

        Are you addressing my comment? I hope not because I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

        • holdingrabbits

          Can’t tell if you’re being obtuse…

          • bigmamat

            Who are you? And I don’t know what the hell you are talking about either. Please explain.

          • holdingrabbits

            He perfectly answered your questions.

    • chucky3176

      There are no public education
      system that would be able to address the demands of the modern Korean parent. Even if they go over to the US, they still act the same. It’s not the system, it’s the culture to compete and keep up with the Kim’s.

      How they pay for all this education? They borrow, they spend all their retirement funds, and nothing is spared for cost of education. Many Koreans in their forties and fifties are ill prepared for retirement because they’ve given up everything for their kid’s education and kid’s marriages. Americans spend their savings on TV’s, cars, and homes, and ended up broke. On the other hand, Koreans spend all their savings on their kid’s education and their wedding day, and ended up broke. All that money spent on English, Korea only comes up 24th best in the world in English, much worse than some countries that spend zero. First in spending on English by far, almost last in ability. The wasted resources could have easily funded Korea’s new welfare for the poor and elderly.

      • David

        Excellent response Chucky, saved me the trouble. He is spot on Bigmamat, they basically spend away their savings and count on their children (or more and more on their single child) to support them in return. They see it as an investment in their child’s future. I think this was a good bet 20 or 30 years ago, but the time where English is the magic bullet to open doors is past. It is still a great skill to have but students must be aware of WHY and HOW it is important, not just keep doing the “because my mother said I have to study English”. Without real effort, which follows self-motivation, going through the motions is a waste of time and their parents money.

        • bigmamat

          I understand that older koreans depend on their children in old age. But I’m a little confused now, is all of this competition simply about english language learning? Math, science other disciplines are not studied? Are there really enough lucrative jobs available in Korea to warrant this kind of competition? What kind of salary are these parents expecting their children to draw after all this studying? If 36,500 is the average that doesn’t sound like a lot to me. Maybe in Korea, but I thought korea had the same problem a lot of economies have now that housing can be a huge expense. I guess most people here concede that the problem isn’t so much the public education system as it is the competitive culture?

          • David

            Well, English is what most parents spend the extra money on (tutors and academies). Students are expected to be competent in the other subjects simply from attending school (yes there are academies for other subjects like math but the overwhelming majority are for English).

            The reason for the big push in English is because of the entrance examine they take their senior year to get into university. Basically, in 11th grade the decide on one of two tracks in school. One track leads to business and the other to the sciences. The business track requires them to take spoken English in 11th grade and the science track only requires written English class (normally they take two English classes a day in a good school). 12th grade is basically a year long study period for the big test. They take written English classes (only taught by Korean English teachers because it is technically heavy with grammar). A large part of the big test is English language. If they do really well, they can get into a top university (this is winning the jackpot).

            Graduating from a top university (like Seoul University) is a guarantee to a great job with a major corporation. It means very good pay (well above average), it means you can buy a good house, you will be able to marry a beautiful wife (and a beautiful mistress) and have beautiful kids and take care of your parents in their old age. If this sounds like a lot of pressure to put on the shoulders of a 12th grader it is, but even my 7th graders are preparing for the test. I have many who write essays saying how wonderful their life will be if they just do really well on the big test.

            So the short answer is that an important part of their college entrance examine is in English (as well as courses taught at their top universities, I forgot to mention that) that is why kids start taking English in kindergarten and move to twice a day in middle school.

          • bigmamat

            Thank you. Finally someone who explained it all to me. I knew that English study was emphasized but not to that extent. I hate to keep pinging you on this but what makes Seoul University or any other for that matter a top tier school? Is it the similar to an “ivy league” school in the US?

          • David

            Top tier would be similar to ivy league yes (Seoul, Kaist, Pohang, Hanyang, Korea University, Yonsei, Punsan, Ajour, Chung-An and Ewha University are the top ten).

            However, remember this is Korea there are not 4000 colleges like in the U.S. more like 400 (universities and junior colleges).

            It is more then just being a good school, they are all good schools but
            more importantly they are all schools which are revered and admired by
            all Koreans (certainly by all who make hiring decisions at major

            The Holy Grail is Seoul University. To say it is held
            in much higher esteem than either Harvard or Yale in the U.S. is not an exaggeration. If you graduate from Seoul University, not only will your parents and every relative you have be bragging about you, your old school will advertise that you went there (and I mean even your elementary school will take credit) and your entire neighborhood will lord it over that parents of the kid from down the block who only graduated from Hanyang University last year that they would not shut up about. lol Nationalism can be a powerful thing..

          • bigmamat

            No kidding, nationalism is a powerful thing, American, remember. lol

            Ok so that makes sense too, in a country with 50 million people it would be reasonable that only a handful of universities are considered top tier. Duh. So then by the same standard top foreign university graduates in Korea also enjoy greater status. Especially those with more fluent foreign language skills.

            So how do you think the Korean educational culture could be improved? You certainly have a personal interest since your children are school age.

      • bigmamat

        Right. I get it. I know you are blaming the education migration on the desire to learn English but I’m not sure if that is the entire story either. Since even university study in the U.S is down slightly. I believe the idea behind leaving the country to study is that foreign education is often seen as superior. I’m not arguing here just wondering really how bad it can be with so much studying going on. Certainly American kids don’t work as hard as the average Korean kid at learning.

        • holdingrabbits

          It’s true that American kids don’t work as hard. My friends were baffled when I told them that we don’t really have a hagwon system…because how do we have so many great universities, etc. There are a few things that differentiate the American education system (in times past at least):

          1) We don’t have social promotion. If you fail a class, you go to summer school. If you fail many classes, you repeat the grade and your friends move on without you. Asia sometimes thinks it invented the concept of shame, but no kid wants to fail a grade.

          2) The quality of study isn’t especially good in Korea. There are usually lots of distractions and spacing out involved in “studying.” This is just preparing them for life in a company where they will have to stay at work 6 hours after they’ve finished their work in order to impress their boss. I think there is certainly a pride factor in how many hours they spent studying, regardless of whether or not they were actually studying.

          3) The type of learning is different. It’s not about understanding the material (which would make studying way easier and more intuitive) but rather about memorizing the material.

          4) Not so much emphasis is put on tests back home. You can usually do pretty poorly on tests, but if you do everything else well then you can get out with an okay grade.

          5) There are 3 major universities everyone wants to go to in Korea even though there are hundreds of universities in Korea. Back home, there are thousands and if they’re operated at a state level, then there’s a good chance that it’s quality. So the average student doesn’t feel the need to be as competitive as a Korean student unless you do end up trying to go to an ivy league school. Since many Korean universities are for profit, there’s no real standard for them…which is probably why Korea’s universities are ranked 24th in the world. Some people wanted to nationalize the universities in order to make them all meet a minimum standard, but of course it was not well received.

  • Mighty曹

    I wonder if there is a correlation between this and the thriving sex industry.

    • holdingrabbits

      What sex industry? There is no sex industry. Prostitution is illegal in Korea. (wink)

      • Mighty曹

        Of course it’s illegal. Just as in Thailand. (wink wink)

        • mr.wiener

          Be careful what you pick up in Thailand [twink twink]

          • Mighty曹

            Or what you think you’re picking up. {shrink shrink}

          • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

            This is going somewhere weird *blink blink*

          • mr.wiener

            Rely weird [kink, kink]

          • Brett

            I want to rhyme with action words too! [sink, sink :'( ]

    • commander

      It is reported on several occasions that anti-prostitution law in South Korea have driven some whores and pimps of its sex industry overseas, including the United States and Australia.

      But there is no slightest correlation between a new strain of sex business and goose families.

      You might think that some lonely goose breadwinners who are left alone here may use prostituion.

      Already burdensome by the necessary remittance for other family members in foreign country, it is inconceivable to be tempted into brothels wasting money.

      • bigmamat

        I agree, I can’t see financially strapped people spending huge amounts of money on sex when soju is so cheap. Of course the article did say that alcohol consumption among goose dads is pretty widespread. I wonder if they actually drink more than the average Korean. To an outside observer it looks like Koreans drink quite a bit. I tease my buddy all the time about his drinking skills since his family history is Korean and Irish. He can certainly hold his juice.

        • David

          No joke, Koreans drink a LOT. Not everyone of course but the Korean who does not drink is very rare (I know one and she is looked down upon because of it). It is the one release they have from the intense social pressure of being Korean (same as the Japanese but don’t tell them I said that lol).

          • bigmamat

            Not my place to criticize. I’m an American. I think the world pretty much guessed that we will eat, drink, snort, huff, and mainline anything that will give us a minutes peace.

          • Mighty曹

            Bro, pass the pipe.

      • Mighty曹

        There was a recent protest by prostitutes against police crackdown. So it doesn’t appear they have been driven out of Korea or even underground.

    • bigmamat

      I’m not sure these 20,000 or so guys are entirely responsible for the 46,00 room salons, hourly motels and the 200,000 sex workers in Korea. If they are then damn! No wonder they are ready to drop dead. They aren’t just underfed they are overworked. lol

      • Mighty曹

        20,000 per year is quite a strong growth rate. Well, let’s hope they’re not being overworked. haha!

  • lonetrey / Dan

    A Pyrrhic victory seems to be the only possible outcome.

    Aren’t there better ways to handle life than send them overseas?

    • commander

      There is one way.

      Teach children to stand on their own feet though it is very hard in ferociously competitive Korean Society.

      Although there are few date available on how closely correlated studying abroad and building successful careers is, I think it’s not good idea for fathers to thow his all away for their children.

      Some children assiduously study their way to what they want to living up to parental expectations, but some do not.

      Parental support for their children is important but it’s too much painful for goose fathers.

      Thinkibg twice before sending wives and childten abroad is the alternative to what can be a Phrrhic Victory for all.

  • bigmamat

    Can I ask a possibly stupid question. Let me see if I can word it right. I find it interesting and hard to understand how societies like Korea can be so collective yet so competitive at the same time. Asian or perhaps Confucian culture reinforces a “we” approach to social order. Yet at the same time East Asian cultures, especially Korea seem to be highly competitive. Perhaps I’m wrong thinking that being extremely competitive and being more individualistic should go hand in hand. Does this dichotomy of behavior create more stress for the individual? I can’t help but think that East Asian culture in general really has only the veneer of a collective society. Underneath all that “we” is a whole lot of “me”.

    • KCdude

      Confucianism indeed help the we-ness. And the individualism thing in Korea is a product of American style quasi-unrestricted capitalism thanks to lax of commercial laws. Koreans here worship money like the monotheistic deity. I am scared of Koreans’ epic obsession with money that is destroying all the positive Korean social values.

      • David

        Then you would not be happy in China.

      • bigmamat

        Well can you name a few of these positive social values that have been destroyed by American Capitalism? I’m interested, not trolling, promise. Because I’m pretty certain that money has been worshiped by most people since long before America and capitalism was even invented. Capitalism is just an economic system that structures the pursuit of money. Capitalism didn’t cause Koreans to be so competitive it has become a “way up” for Koreans. Maybe democracy is the real problem you are bemoaning.

        • KCdude

          We can agree to disagree in this case. Since I know that Koreans are way too obsessed with money than average Canadians. The love for money is the root of all evil is what I believe.

          • bigmamat

            I don’t agree to disagree. Sorry. But I could argue that the average Canadian doesn’t need to obsess over money as much as the average Korean. Canadians do not process all of their social interactions through the lens of a strict hierarchical system based on class, age, gender and economic status, Koreans do. Yes these restrictions in society do exist in Canada and in the U.S. but they are not nearly as rigid nor are they as strictly adhered too. So for the average Korean the only way to actually improve your lot in life is through the status that money brings. I get it now.

      • Anthony M Ludovici

        No, the individualism is the result of neo-confucianism combined with a capitalist mentality.

        It’s the “face” concept in virtue ethics taken to its logical extreme – Money makes the man in totality. Just as Miley Cyrus and atomization is the logical end result of Western hyper-individualism. Both are bad.

        • bigmamat

          First let me chuckle a minute about the Miley Cyrus comment. lmao I have no idea why that 20 year old girl pisses so many people off. Let me chortle one more time. *snicker* Next what do you mean by “atomization” in this context. I’m just not that sharp. I will concede that hyper-individualism is a problem in American society, not sure about elsewhere in the west. I also agree that Koreans have very much embraced the capitalist mentality that so many people find offensive. I’m curious though how people that find it so offensive would mitigate it’s consequences or what other economic structure they would adopt.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            Miley Cyrus pisses people off because she’s part of the general media zeitgeist that makes it very hard to raise a daughter properly in today’s West.

            By atomization I mean breaking down traditional forms of group identity and community and the resulting dysfunction of confused, aimless, identityless people.

          • bigmamat

            It scares me to even ask what you mean by raising your daughter properly. As for the automization you are talking about I’m from a region of the country that doesn’t have large populations of different “groups” to even identify. Everyone here for a couple hundred years belonged to two groups, white and black. My identity was defined by the picture of Robert E. Lee hanging in the dining room, but I rejected that identity a long time ago. Somewhere around the age of nine when I figured out that the kid sitting in front of me in school didn’t actually have a tail.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            “It scares me to even ask what you mean by raising your daughter properly.”

            By not having her grow up thinking people like Miley Cyrus are role models?

            I find it scary that your mind is so malleable you’ve let the slow burn of that sort of degeneracy convince yourself of your normality. Have you no moral or ethical principles whatsoever?

            ” I’m from a region of the country that doesn’t have large populations of different “groups” to even identify”

            The Midwest? If it is the Midwest then that’s a flat out lie.

            “but I rejected that identity a long time ago”

            You rebel you, embracing a faux-individuality just like…. the rest of western youth in their entirety. Why it’s almost like you’re just doing what everyone else does.

          • bigmamat

            First of all I’m not malleable. If I were then I’d be a Republican. As for Miley if your daughter is in danger of using her as a role model then I’d say you need to look closer to home for the problem of malleability. Next I’m not from the mid-west I’m from the south. So I know your type. The butthurt white guy that blames all his problems on the scary “other” guy. I know you. You’re the guy that thinks “they” are taking “christ” out of Christmas. You’re the guy that thinks affirmative action is “reverse racism”. The guy that believes man should be head of the household. The guy who thinks gay people make “lifestyle choices” and that women who dress provocatively are asking for it.

            You live a comfortable lifestyle but you are always terrified that someone or something is going to come along and take it all away. Right now you probably think it’s Obama. You say you want to raise your daughter right but what you really want to raise is a woman who knows her place. I guess I have to ask the same question as David. Why are you here? Don’t you belong over at The Blaze or WorldNet Daily.

          • Anthony M Ludovici

            I don’t think affirmative action is “reverse racism” because “racism” is a meaningless term meant to ideologically disarm your opponent, not debate him.

            “then I’d say you need to look closer to home for the problem of malleability.”

            So you believe environment is responsible for everything from women liking pink colored things to blacks doing poorly on standardized tests, yet you blithely dismiss the idea that a highly sexually charged media environment aimed in large part at young girls in everything from music to TV to film could play a part in shaping a woman’s attitudes?

            Doublethink is the act of ordinary people simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts.

            “The guy who thinks gay people make “lifestyle choices”

            Well, have we actually established to what degree homosexuality is genetic? As far as I know we’ve discovered one candidate gene that could possibly play a part in regulating physiological conditions that shape one’s attitudes to homosexuality. Like most traits, prevalence of homosexuality is probably part-genetic, part environmental. Odd how you become a genetic determinist when it suits you though, I’m sure you don’t believe the same applies to intelligence.

    • David

      I think you are confusing Confucian philosophy a little. It is not so much a WE are all in it together philosophy (which would promote cooperation) as a “everything has its place in the Universe” approach. The competitiveness comes from finding and defining your place in society which begins at a very early age. Everybody knows they will be above somebody and below somebody in the pecking order. Once that order is set it is very difficult to change. One way the order is set is what kind of family you are born into (wealthy, powerful, connected, successful =higher). Wherever you are, there will be others in the same strata. Throughout school your place is defined by what others think of you (sort of). Behaving in some ways (doing well in school for instance or practicing a talent like music) is respected, while acting other way (selfish or anti-social) is not. There are few ways to make big changes, most are a slow climb up or a slow grind down. Very few single events can propel you up (being a successful Kpop star or winning an Olympic medal are examples) most people respect the slow grind Anyway, as with all philosophies, there are more aspects to this that I have ignored and which you would have to experience to really catch but this is a general understanding from a Non-Korean who has been around Koreans for almost 30 years. I hope it helps.

      • bigmamat

        Once again thank you for the conversation. I guess you do realize that “pecking order” is part of every social structure no matter how much western society may like to deny it. God it’s scary isn’t it? Because without actually “engineering” some kind of way for society to change, this will be the way things are forever. I guess this is what the west often tries to do by encouraging the growth of the middle class. It at least gives the impression that we are trying to have a more equitable world.

        When you say that most Koreans respect “the slow grind” I guess you are implying that they are willing to continue operating under these conditions because they find some merit in the system. So the hyper competitiveness is born out of the need for individuals to improve their place in this order. No wonder traditionalists are so frightened by western influences. Well, you can reassure your Korean traditionalist friends that the pecking order in most western societies is still intact despite the efforts of millions of people who have tried to change it over the centuries.

        • jon777

          The pecking order in the west is nothing compared to that in east asian countries. Especially not Korea and Japan. In the west you might have people thinking “i’m the best, i’m rich, i’m above everyone else so I can treat others like shit”. But in Korea they will think “I’m above this person and below that person, so I have to use polite language, proper honorifics and titles to the person above me and casual language to the one below me”. In any new relationship they start with figuring out who is above who. Age is often the most important factor.

          • bigmamat

            Yeah I know. It took me awhile for it to click in my head but David who posted here helped me understand. I couldn’t seem to reconcile the collective type society with the uber-competitive education system but now I understand. The only way to rise above the station you are born to in Korea is to get a better job than your parents and make more money. I get it now.

    • commander

      As the answer to your intriguing question, I want say this way.

      Togetherness and individualisitc competition is sufficiently compatible. Collective mindset is emphasized when you work as a member of an organization, while individualism-motivated contest for scare resources are brounght into relief before you get into that organization.

      In a nutshell, a sense of We starts to turn on within an organization.

      For your information, an interesting survey was conducted of people on different continents about their perception of things.

      Interestingly enough, Eastern peoples set their eyes first on the background of a picture and relations between objects on pictures before moving sights onto concrete ones.

      British and American peoples who took part in the survey replied that they put theur first focus on individual objects and then broaden their vision into the whole.

      People of the continental Europe was found to have seize d the middle ground between individual and holistic perspectives.

      Some research concluded that the fact that the Industrial Revolution occured in Britain of the West is hardly surprising as mechanical and individualistic perspectives sets the stage for analyzing principles of objects.

      In contrast, the East where harmony between Nature and human is highest prized do not feel the need to dig into nitty and gritty of things as the Nature oversees the birth and death of life.

      In addition, China established a stable system of governance when the IR took place in the West and the Chinese economy was more flourishing than its western counterpart was.

      This stability, coupled with the China’s notion of itself as the center of the world’s civilization, generated complacency, leading to the colonialization of invading Western forces.

    • silver surfer

      Completely true. That’s why I find labels like ‘collectivist’ or ‘individualist’ society misleading, unhelpful – and often used to put a cloak of knowledge over ignorance.

  • Dave Park

    A family should live together, not be apart due to any reason.

  • Guest

    I don’t feel bad for these fathers. It’s not that hard to learn how to cook. I feel more pity for the mother’s going to English speaking countries. At least the father is in a familiar culture and has his regular support system while those mothers have to go alone to a country where they usually don’t speak the language and are separated from their regular support system.

  • Miniluv101

    This is all a result of the clear lack of Hatcheries and Conditioning Centres, soma and freemartins in today’s society!

  • jon777

    Basically, capitalism sucks.

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