Traditionalists outraged by demise of hojujeOver the last couple of days a controversy regarding the hojuje, or family registry system, raged in Seoul after the minister of gender equality, Chi Eun-hee, on Monday reported the government’s plan to abolish the system.
Just seconds after the announcement the ministry’s Web site, www.moge.go.kr was flooded with irate messages by those opposed to the removal of the system. Many of the complaints came from Confucianist groups like Yurim.
“The government’s insistence on removing the system is a ruthless act that does not take into consideration human dignity and value, which are protected by the constitution,” said Lee Duk-hee, a member of Seonggyungwan Yurim, a Confucianist group.
Mr. Lee stressed that the removal of the family registry system is not the will of the entire nation but the desire of a small group of women.
“Who would agree to the abolishment of the system?” Mr. Lee said. “That would destroy our families.”
First, Mr. Lee argued, with the removal of the hojuje, family order ― and perhaps societal order ― will collapse. “It would be possible for brothers and sisters to marry each other if they choose different family names,” he said.
“By law if they have different family names they are strangers, even if they have a parent in common.
“Your father could also become your father-in-law and your mother your mother-in-law. This would completely destroy the family.”
In addition, Mr. Lee argued that a child’s family name is already given before birth and therefore cannot be altered.
“For a mother to change the surname of her child, that would be an act of profanity,” he said.
“How could a mother for her own happiness change the name given to her child by his father?” Mr. Lee asked. “If this is the case, wouldn’t the child have to change his or her family name whenever the mother marries another person?” Mr. Lee stressed.
Mr. Lee also said that doing away with the family registry system would be like cutting off the root of the family.
“The root will disappear forever and a person would never be able to trace his heritage,” Mr. Lee said.
“There would be no family tree, no ancestors, no relatives, and in a country where the family system is breaking down, would the citizens be safe?”
Mr. Lee said Yurim, the Confucianist group, is planning to hold a rally in Seoul in front of the National Assembly soon. “We’re going to hold a meeting to set the date for our protest,” Mr. Lee said.
“We’re expecting more than 10,000 to turn up.”
Some who wrote on the Ministry of Gender Equality’s Web site bulletin board were even harsher.
“Feminists need to have some sense beaten into them,” one Internet user, who did not identify himself, wrote on the bulletin board.
Many messages attacked women in general. One Internet user called all feminists ugly and stupid. Another wrote, “It’s only a small group of divorcees with bad personalities and spinsters who are demanding that the family registry system be removed.”
“Some people even call the office and some are really harsh,” said Chae Seong-je, a public affairs officer at the ministry.
“We just try to explain the situation on our side.”
According to the ministry’s Web site management department, the Web site has been overwhelmed since Monday because of the heavy traffic. Crashes are frequent.
“The system crashed more than once because the Web site is overloaded with messages from those who are criticizing us over the removal of the hojuje,” an official at the ministry said.
Although the number of those opposing the abolishment of the family registry system continues to grow, the ministry said it plans to push ahead with the plan.
“In order to get this proposal [on removing the hojuje] passed by the National Assembly within this year the ministry plans to discuss the issue with the related government and civic groups to reach a viable solution,” a ministry official said.
by Lee Ho-jeong