Friday, June 12, 2015

Women from the North and Men from the South

In Korea we have close to 30 thousand refugees from the North and 70 percent of them are women.
Many of these women were married in the North and have left family to escape the hunger. Circumstances, and the whirlpool of life in which they were involved was the reason for the life they now have in the South.

Loneliness and missing their families are their biggest difficulties  in the South. Hunger which they faced  was their reason for leaving, but the longer here  the more they miss their families, and feel guilt for having left them, although they now have escaped the hunger.These are the words of a refugee from the North who has a column in the Peace Weekly.

As time passes many prepare to build another nest here in the South and end up marrying a South Korean. Marriage Information Companies they have  established, and family members introduce them to mates, hoping to overcome the loneliness with marriage. Compared to men in the North, who she describes as unsocial, the men in the South leave the women with an impression of intimacy and kindness. After marriage, for a  short period of time, they are happy but shortly the difference in culture and thinking begin to appear, and misunderstanding follows. Marriages, occasionally, don't even last a year before divorce.

Personalities and money matters are often the issue. Women in the North have been under a dictatorial government and in fighting the evils in society, in order to live, have had to endure much. This has made their way of speaking coarse, and even in small matters they fight to resolve their problems. Men here in the South are quiet and introspective and facing this demeanor on the part of the wife is difficult to understand.

Women feel it is their job to handle the money of the house. In the North this was the women's work. In the house to have money that is 'yours' and 'mine' is  not understood. With this kind of thinking we have a lack of trust and women despair.

We have the separation of the two Koreas and in marriage we find the difference so pronounced that living together as husband and wife is difficult. Is this not a lack of care for the  other? Men need to understand the women's scars and make allowances; women need to  understand how the man looks upon the use of money and see her husband as a partner for life.

Problems defectors face in the South and especially those married to South Koreans should be used as a  blueprint to work towards unification. Without serious efforts to help the defectors adapt to life in the South, our approach  to achieve unification will lack honesty and be a pipe dream.                   

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