[EDITORIALS]Society built on solid marriagesIt is no longer news that divorce rates are on the rise. The problem is the speed at which divorces are surging. According to the Korea National Statistical Office, 458 couples divorced per day last year. This is a 0.5 percent increase from the previous year. Even during the 1997 financial crisis, it took three years for the divorce rate to increase 0.5 percent. This makes us wonder if the increase is excessive.
In the past, marriage was the union of families but in this day and age, the ultimate goal of marriage is “living a happy life.” For modern people, seeking individual happiness is the foremost priority so, in order to correct their wrong choice, they can turn to divorce. The problem is that in the process of disintegrating the family, there is great pain inflicted upon family members, and young children do not receive proper protection.
A committee on family and youth reform under the auspices of the Seoul Family Court ruled recently that a divorced couple must go through a settlement period where they receive counseling and consultations on childcare. We must continue to seek legal as well as systematic means that can help lessen the harmful effects that divorce has on society. But this alone is not enough. In order to delay the speed of rise in divorce rates, we must seek a fundamental cure.
Couples hold elaborate wedding ceremonies yet they delay registering their marriages nowadays, and the number of divorced couples who were married less than 10 years amount to nearly half of all divorces in the country. Moreover, the divorces among couples who have lived together for more than twenty years amount to 17.8 percent of total divorce cases, which is three times the number from 10 years ago.
One of the reasons for the rise in divorce rates is that hasty marriages usually lead to hasty divorces. Another is that family values are not catching up to the change in female consciousness.
Now is the time to undertake marriage education. Education should include the meaning of marriage, changes in family relations, perceptions about oneself and one’s spouse, responsibility and duty arising from childbirth, among others.
Young people should be taught about what it means for men and women to be married, and what it means to their families. If couples split, families will weaken and if families crumble, society is bound to collapse.