In Korea, Covid kept couples from divorcing

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In Korea, Covid kept couples from divorcing

 A counter to file for divorce. [YONHAP]

A counter to file for divorce. [YONHAP]

The number of divorces in Korea shrank to the lowest level since 2017 last year, while the coronavirus pandemic boosted divorce cases in the United States and Europe.
 
According to Statistics Korea on Sunday, 97,331 couples divorced from January through November last year, a 4.3 percent decline compared to the same period in 2019.
 
It was the biggest percentage fall since a 6 percent on-year decline in 2015. By number of cases, it is the lowest since 2017 when 97,168 couples divorced in the first 11 months.
 
In many countries, Covid-19 has been blamed for more divorces, giving birth to the term "Covidivorce."
 
Lockdowns forced couples to spend too much time together, and many people lost jobs at the same time. 
 
What was different in Korea?
 
Korea didn't have lockdowns, of course, and many people were able to go to work as usual. 
 
One possible difference is that social distancing measures reduced family get-togethers -- and conflict with in-laws.
 
In Korea, divorce cases soar in the March-April-May period as couples get frustrated at each other or their in-laws over the Lunar New Year holiday season. During the holiday season most Korean families gather for traditional rituals, called jesa.
 
In 2019, May had the largest number of divorce cases, 9,861, and the same was true in 2018, with 9,706 couples parting in May. In 2017, it was March with 9,486 divorce cases.
 
Last year, though, it was July with the most number of couples legally breaking up, at 9,787 cases.
 
It's also possible that economic difficulties have made couples put up with each other. People who have lost jobs due to the pandemic may hesitate to divorce and go out on their own economically.
 
Last year, 82,000 men and 137,000 women lost jobs especially in the services sector, according to the statistics agency.
 
The slump in cases could be temporary, and the demand for divorce rebound after the pandemic.
 
"Due to social distancing measures, there were few [divorce] trials that were held last year," said Kim Young-mi, an attorney at law firm Soongin. "Frustration with each other could only grow when couples stay home together for a long time and many lose jobs."
 
 
 
BY CHO HYUN-SOOK, KIM JEE-HEE   [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
 
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