[EDITORIALS]Hojuje replacement needs study

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[EDITORIALS]Hojuje replacement needs study

A subcommittee of the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee reached a bipartisan agreement to end hojuje, the nation’s patriarchal family registration system, and the proposed revision on civil codes will likely pass the Assembly in February.
The system, which has been largely criticized for its outdated concept and sexual discriminatory nature, is about to be abolished, meeting the changes in our time.
Hojuje has been criticized as a vestige of Japanese colonial rule, and the Korean women’s community will see more progress in gender equality after a half century since winning women’s suffrage in 1948.
We have already written publicly that the system should be abolished. To replace hojuje, the opinions of the nation should be taken into account carefully and a new system should be established with a consensus.
Too radical of a change may damage Korea’s long tradition of family values.
It is vital to come up with an alternative that will strengthen family values, which have become more and more important in our modern society. It is also important to revise laws governing such issues.
The Justice Ministry has already proposed two alternatives. One alternative, called a family registry, would be simple to implement at this point, but the system still asks a family to identify the head of each individual household.
It is likely that male members will be selected as family heads. Concerns have risen that the abolishment of hojuje will thus become meaningless.
Another alternative, the individual registry, eliminates gender inequality, but the system may break up the concept of the family. Therefore, we believe in adopting the new family registry system as long as it does not constitute gender inequality.
Since hojuje is expected to end, the government must come up with a follow-up measure that will minimize trial and error accompanying the change. Even if the new system will be adopted in February 2007, we are very short of time to replace the long-standing family registration system.
The Supreme Court and the Justice Ministry must draw up a replacement plan as soon as possible, and should listen to public opinions carefully. The new steps toward gender equality must not stagger.
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