[VIEWPOINT]A new chapter of civilization

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[VIEWPOINT]A new chapter of civilization

It was not because they were curious about what the men were doing in the family clan that Korean women took pains to enter into it. They probably entered the clans because they wanted to calmly correct the caption of a photo from our busy and unstable album of modern history.
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that married daughters could also become members of their family clans.
If a clan is a name given to a group of people who share the same surname and family origin, the definition itself did not really limit its membership to adult men in the first place. The only thing that blocked women from coming into a family clan was old traditions and the power of men.
Now they are broken so easily. Isn’t it indeed a very 21st century event?
It is also interesting that the old judges at the Supreme Court decided resolutely what the young judges at the lower courts could not dare to do.
However, this is not a simple follow-up legal case that accompanies the abolition of the family head system.
It is a symbolic and a concrete move that indicates a change in our way of life and way of thinking. The goal of this change is, of course, realizing equality between the sexes.
Nevertheless, a harmonious life between the genders is not just a gigantic dream. In other words, it is not a difficult task that is possible only when the Constitution regulates over it, the court intervenes and the system enforces it.
It is no different from making such decisions as to get up 30 minutes early in the morning, to take a short nap after lunch, or to take a walk in a nearby park.
Therefore, the judgment of the Supreme Court is basically a kind direction that tells us to carry out gender equality in our everyday life. That is my commentary on the ruling, as a person who does not know much about the law but is just opening his eyes to life.
Let’s look at how some people live. I knew that Professor Kim Du-sik, who teaches at a university outside of Seoul, would be in Seoul for the summer holidays. I called him and suggested that we have lunch or dinner together, and as expected, he chose lunch.
It was not because he does not drink that the professor chose lunch. He said he wanted to make up for his share of household chores that he missed during the school semester, when he had to work away from home.
The popular novelist Park Min-kyu is similar in this respect. He speaks of his own character as one who loves his wife.
He says that when he decided to quit his job and become a novelist, his wife encouraged him, saying that she would make money for their livelihood in the meantime.
He says that he now writes harder because he wants to show off in front of his wife.
I don’t think it necessary to enumerate the case of Judge Lee Jeong-ryeol who applied for paternity leave at work after his wife gave birth to a baby recently.
When female players like Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie step in the field of men’s golf tournaments, men start to share the work they entrusted to women. This is not just the expansion of one side or breaking the wall between the genders. The world of humans becomes more diverse when the two sexes are well mixed together.
And that is how we come to live a proper life. The life of man is not that complex, is it?
While writing a column in this way, I start to feel uneasy, because I am reminded of what I did a while ago.
After we get up in the morning my wife folds the bedsheets and puts them in the closet. However, she leaves behind the large mat that we sleep on.
I could see why she left it on the floor. The worn out part of the mat showed me that it was too heavy for my wife to lift up because of her bad back.
I looked at it for a while, and then as if to test the weight of gender equality, I lifted the last mat up. I felt as if I made it clear the range of chores for me.
Family clans are not palaces built for men that exist in tradition, because married women are not functional animals that exist to produce men that become new members of other family’s clan.
Women of the world are also not accessories of vanity to show off the power and strength of men. The variety that comes from a flexible way of thinking that clearly acknowledges the two genders, androgyny, and even a fourth gender, is our world today and tomorrow.
I feel like Korean civilization is ripening under an exploding sun, at the encouragement of the court’s ruling.

*The writer is a lawyer. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.


by Cha Byung-jik
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