Families matter

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Families matter

Home violence poses a growing threat to Korean families. Physical abuse remains rampant and these horrific types of crimes are increasing. Families should be a last resort and source of shelter, but the reality of home violence delivers a shock in a traditionally closely-knit society with strong blood ties.

According to recent data from the National Police Agency, killings by a family member accounted for 34 percent of all homicides reported in 2017, double the 15.7 percent by outsiders. The number of people arrested for killing a parent or grandparent surged to 91 last year from 60 in 2015. Such cases are expected to exceed 100 this year. Lesser examples of domestic violence have also surged with the number of people arrested for assaulting family members more than doubling to 2,414 in 2018 from 988 in 2014. Cases of people killing their own children also soared by 60 percent last year compared to the previous year.

A Korean man was recently arrested after a video of him brutally beating up his Vietnamese wife went viral on the internet. He punched and kicked the woman for her poor Korean language skills and also hit his two-year-old son, who tried to stop him. The video on Facebook outraged people in the woman’s native country, understandably.

According the Migrant Women Human Rights Center of Korea, 19 foreign women married to Korean husbands died from 2007 to 2017. According to a police report submitted to the legislature, 55 cases out of a total of 301 homicides last year were wife murders. That means one out of five murders was committed against women by their husbands.

Family crimes and domestic violence are often caused by financial problems. Anger and frustration are taken out on the closest family members. Korea’s innately patriarchal and discriminatory family structure — and twisted views of wives and children as men’s possessions — also have made men violent toward the most vulnerable in their families. Noninterference in domestic affairs by law enforcement agencies — and relatively lenient courts — also encourage domestic violence.

Families form the basis of any society. A society can stay healthy through healthy family relations. A nation and society cannot be happy when homes are breaking apart. The nation should be tough on domestic violence, and authorities must focus on protecting potential victims. At the same time, social welfare should be strengthened in order to offer more care for children and seniors, and families themselves must practice gender equality more than ever before.
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