Masters of their domains
She added life and joy to homemaking tasks ― activities often ignored in GNP calculations ― and raised the stature of the homemaker to an artistic and professional level. Her impact has been so profound that people refer to a feel-good moment as a “Martha moment.”
Su-yeon, who is in her mid-30s and the mother of a 5-year old daughter, considers herself a professional homemaker in the spirit of Martha Stewart. She is not paid a salary, but homemaking is a job for her; she unequivocally punches in and out of work at designated times agreed upon by her family, and outside of working hours, she rests or takes time for herself. She also gets vacation time. Su-yeon remarks, “I committed myself to homemaking because I chose the profession that best suited me.” Once, in her college days, a male classmate stormed out of her women’s studies class, saying, “How can the noble sacrifices of mothers be exchanged for money!” Recently a Korean brokerage firm calculated those “noble sacrifices” to be worth about $27,000 a year. Earlier this month, an American Internet site calculated “Mom’s salary” to be $140,000 a year, which caused a commotion. Considering even babysitters make $1,615 a month, some suggested the firm underevaluated the strength of our mothers.
Among 10 criteria used to evaluate American homemakers, Korean mothers perform well as the “CEO” of the family. Is there another country in the world where mothers have to make tough decisions that rival the ones made by CEOs? They must save money to buy a home, be financially savvy and lock horns in the dog-eat-dog world of private education. In addition, they have to lay down their lives to participate in an elementary school fire drill. Even Martha Stewart, the diva of domesticity, would be jaw-droppingly astoundedby the professionalism of Korean homemakers.
*The writer is a deputy business editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Hong Seung-il [email@example.com]