[EDITORIALS]Preserve the family in registryThe Supreme Court released a new family registry plan Monday. Under the new proposal, each person will have his or her own family registry in which family information is recorded.
The current family registry system defines the status of each family member in relation to hoju, the household’s male head. But the new system is more gender-equal and individual-oriented.
According to the current system, men are considered superior to women. The family registry, for example, describes a male baby’s status as a patron of his mother.
Also, the father of a family has the freedom to register his extramarital children in the registry without the consent of his wife. Under the current system, furthermore, a woman’s family registry is replaced by that of her husband’s upon marriage. A woman’s personal history of divorce and remarriage is recorded in the family registry each time, too.
The new plan should be able to redress the problems of the current system. And that is why the new system should consider human dignity as its most important value.
We believe the court’s plan, which is tentative, relatively faithfully serves the principle of gender equality, a value of modern times. It also protects the privacy of individuals.
The plan is not a Western-type, completely individual-based family registry system, which has been touted by some women’s circles. However, we believe it can minimize the culture shock for some people who have worried that the concept of family will be completely removed in the new system.
One problem with the new registry is that it does not include an individual’s siblings. Korean culture is based on family but it is being increasingly destroyed as time goes by. We believe that wisdom is necessary so that the new registry does not promote the dissolution of families in Korea.
Late last year, the National Assembly did not approve the amendment bill to the civil code saying that no alternatives exist to replace the current family registry system. Now that the Supreme Court provided an alternative plan and the Justice Ministry will also provide its own plan soon, the Assembly should work hard to pass the bill, as early as it can, to introduce a more rational family registry system.