Different pictures of success

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Different pictures of success


Here’s a joke about the difference between a man and a woman. When a man goes shopping, he’ll pay 2,000 won ($1.84) for something he needs but is only worth 1,000 won. When a woman goes shopping, she’ll pay 1,000 won for something she doesn’t need, but is worth 2,000 won.

A woman marries a man, hoping he will change, but he never changes. A man marries a woman, hoping she won’t change, but she changes anyway. A man and a woman have different standards of success. A successful man makes more money than his woman can spend. A successful woman marries such a man.

We are well into the 21st century where feminist rhetoric has become universal. But still the formula of a rich man and an attractive woman remains valid. The latest surveys in other countries also show that women with higher educational background prefer men with money while men value physical beauty.

Most wives of men with professional jobs or executive positions tend to be full-time homemakers. They consider it more efficient for the husband to focus on his career without sharing childcare, cooking or cleaning chores while the wife takes care of the children and maintains her physical attractiveness, claims Catherine Hakim in “Erotic Capital.” In many affluent Korean families, the wives stay home and focus on raising and educating children.

However, financial stability and attractive appearance do not come easily. In any country, only about 5 percent of the population is born with physical beauty. The rest either lives as is or improve their appearance with surgery and other procedures. However, you cannot earn financial success with plastic surgery.

Sunwoo, a matchmaking service provider, analyzed the 13,000 couples that they have arranged in the last 21 years. When the bride and groom are of the same age, the annual income of the man is 3.88 million won more than the woman on average. As the bride gets younger, each year difference leads to 4.49 million won more in the man’s income. If a man marries a woman six years younger than him, he is normally making 30.9 million won more than his bride.

As Korean society becomes more stabile, it gets harder for young people to upgrade their economic status. That’s why they put their last hope in marriage.

They are tempted by the fantasy of marrying up as seen in recent television drama “Alice in Cheongdam-dong.” It saddens me to see another drama where a woman can only date a handsome guy if she is an heiress of a conglomerate. There are so many other more important values aside from money and charm. Nowadays, young people are certainly lacking audacity, but the grown-ups are also responsible for it.

The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Noh Jae-hyun
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