Long way to goCHUN SU-JIN
The author is the head of Today&People team of the JoongAngIlbo.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris can’t stop talking about her husband. One of her favorite anecdotes is, “Let me tell you, there is nothing more attractive than a man in onion goggles.” Onion goggles are worn to prevent eyes from tearing up when chopping onions. She meant to say that her husband still looked good in goggles that could potentially make even actors Jung Woo-sung and Michele Morrone less attractive.
Between the lines in her joke stands Doug Emhoff — a 21st century-style husband who frequently cooks. How about in Korea? You cannot dare to have your husband wear onion goggles.
That’s what former lawmaker Na Kyung-won and former Minister of SMEs and Startups Park Young-sun did as they appeared on “Taste of Wive,” a Korean variety program on Netflix. Focusing on the personal lives of the two candidates running in the Seoul mayoral by-election on April 7, the program producers stressed the need to “air their families and daily lives for the first time and show their lives as wives and mothers instead of politicians.” Aside from the controversial timing of the appearance, the content was as expected. I cannot understand how Na making French toast or Park saying her husband’s photography skill improved while she was busy has anything to do with administrating the city of Seoul.
A new generation of voters in Korea are quietly accumulating their power. They are the female voters who are not wives or mothers and the male voters who refuse to be fathers. While their voices are not yet loud, as they haven’t become influential enough, their growth is frightening. The equation of women in certain age groups as mothers and wives doesn’t hold for them. They are tired of the interviews of female corporate executives or politicians saying, “I stayed up all night to make soup and freeze it before a business trip [for my husband]” or “I always feel indebted to my husband, children and mother.”
I want to thank writer Chung Se-rang for living in the same age. In her recently published novel “From the Eyes,” Chung began by writing that the novel was about 21st century love devoted to the women who lived through the 20th century. Now that 20 percent of the 21st century has already passed, it seems to be too much to expect 21st century politics from female politicians who lived during the 20th century, as proven by the variety show on the cable channel. Are the 21st century female politicians and their male spouses only real on the other side of the Pacific? I hope someone in the 22nd century reads this text and shakes their head, saying, “Wow, this actually happened in the past!”