[EDITORIALS]Minimize effects of new registryA draft revision to the Civil Code which stipulates the abolition of hojuje, or the patriarchal family registry system, has finally passed deliberation in the Assembly. It took nearly 50 years since the Korean Institute of Legal Advice for Women launched a campaign to revise the family law. Apparently, women’s groups believe the revision will further enhance gender equality even though the measure came belatedly. When the new personal registry system goes into effect in place of the family registry system on Jan. 1, 2008, the space for the male family head will disappear, and the personal registry record will replace the family registry record. This is epochal progress in the history of gender equality in Korea, comparable to the British decision to allow women voting rights.
Because of Confucian traditions, Korean families have maintained the family registry system under which the first-born son plays the leading role. Consequently, wives and daughters were discriminated against. Korean women had to move their family registry from that of their father to husband and then to their son.
Remarried women had to endure the pain of changing their children’s family name. Because of a social atmosphere where women were discriminated against, the trend of preferring sons has spread. It brought the side effect of imbalance between the sexes in our society. Considering the reality where gender equality is established in most fields, the revision of the civil code is desirable in that it reflects the changes in our society. A law that fails to reflect the changing reality is no longer viable.
However, we have to keep in mind that the concept of the family can be endangered when the new personal registry system replaces the family registry system. We cannot ignore worries over the possible dissolution of the family with increasing ego-centrism and divorce rates.
If the bond of family is broken, the ties of society will be loosened, and it will ultimately result in enormous adverse effects on our economy, education and culture as a whole.
There is a grace period of more than two years, so we must have the wisdom of minimizing the side effects of the new system by holding public hearings and hearing expert opinions on the new system.
Women who have fought to promote women’s right should demonstrate a mature attitude of promoting welfare of both men and women.