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South Korean Ad Highlights How Hard It Is to Be a Working Mother

South Korean Ad Highlights How Hard It Is to Be a Working Mother

Two of Hwang Myeong-eun’s advertisements

South Korean Ad Highlights How Hard It Is to Be a Working Mother

Hwang Myeong-eun and her child

South Korean Ad Highlights How Hard It Is to Be a Working Mother

Hwang Myeong-eun's face and story have been made famous across South Korea in a public debate over the country's handling of working mothers. Hwang is a Korean mother struggling to balance work and family life in a culture that demands total commitment to the office.

As the chief financial officer at an advertising firm, Hwang paid ten million won for a full page advertisement in a local free publication describing another hectic day at work. She stated "I may be a good employee, but to my family, I am a failure. In their eyes, I am a bad daughter-in-law, a bad parent, a bad wife and a bad mother. Do the benefits of working rationalise carrying all these labels?" She continued "I am a bad woman" and went on to describe how she wants to share her burden and have the support of her family.

More Korean women are beginning to hold down jobs amid difficult economic times, but the division of domestic labour remains the same and they are faced with taking care of the children's education along with jobs often as demanding as their husbands. Considering Korea has the biggest wage gap between the genders in the developed world, Hwang has achieved a lot more than many working females and yet she said she too often finds herself heartbroken, trying to manage work and family. "I know I am lucky because I make a lot of money, but even for me it's very tough, and I can only imagine how hard it would be for women who are the single breadwinner for their families or who make much less than I do"

"When it comes to raising a child, it was mostly the individual that was seen as bearing the responsibility. There should be a realization that it's the nation now that has to help individuals because socioeconomic changes have made raising a child very difficult," said Shin Yun-jeong, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. Analysts argue that different forms of financial help are necessary as families in different income brackets have different needs. They also feel an introduction of flexible working hours and larger availability of child care centres is crucial in raising the country's productivity and growth potential.

Kim Hye-won, a researcher at the Korea Labor Institute said "I think what working moms here are asking for is just a helping hand so that they can reconcile work and family life. They are not talking about shirking their responsibilities as mothers. They simply want more understanding and acknowledgement that they need some help."

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Original source:; building gender balanced businesses.