Why Korean girls can’t find guys, and vice versa

   Oh, it’s not only Korea, trust me. And the answer is painfully easy, although not pleasing everyone. Men, in general, don’t like well educated women. Why? The same reason why dictatorships don’t like books and education – because people develop their own way of thinking. Self-esteem level is proportional to the level of education, and strong woman will never submit to being treated like second-category human being.
Of course there is something called compromise.

Miss Ahn is 33, attractive and has a good government job in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul. She earned a degree from a fine private university.
Ahn wants to find a man, but the hunt is not going very well.
“Every time I meet my friends, I ask them to set me up with someone”, she said. “And every single time, they let out a sigh and say, ‘There’s no one decent enough’.”
Ahn is not alone in her singlehood. For well-educated Korean women in their late 20s, there simply aren’t enough suitable boys to go around.
This isn’t just powder room or water cooler talk. The fact is backed up by hard statistics. But first, two premises.


In Korea, women usually marry in their late 20s, and they prefer men a few years older. The average marrying age for women is 28.9, and for men it’s 31.8, according to Statistics Korea.
Secondly, like women in many other countries, Koreans look for men who have the same level of education that they have, or better.
According to data from Korea’s 2010 census, there were 820,029 unmarried women aged 29 and over with college degrees.

But the number of unmarried men aged 32 and over with the same level of education was only 715,564. That’s a gap of more than 100,000.

And before you conclude that Korean men are in a generally happy situation, consider this: There are 881,665 unmarried men aged 32 and over who have a high school diploma but no college degree.
The number of single women a few years younger who only graduated from high school is only 472,370 – a gap of 409,295.
“This means that more than 500,000 women and men will find it very difficult to find a partner because women usually prefer men who have a similar or higher educational background”, said Jun Kwang-hee, a sociology professor at Chungnam National University.

Geography and industry play their own roles in Korea’s marriage mismatch. According to Statistics Korea, more single women in their prime marrying years are found in the Seoul area, while single men have moved to rural areas where the factories are.

As of Nov. 1 last year, there were 417,254 single women older than 29 living in Seoul, 22,700 more than eligible men over 32. Factoring in education worsens the imbalance.

There are 78,918 more single women older than 29 with college degrees living in Seoul than men over 32 with the same education. In the three districts south of the Han River famous for education fervor – Gangnam, Seocho and Songpa – there are 11,415 single women who have finished graduate school and only 5,313 men in the same education pool.
A similar difference can also be found in Daegu, Yongin, Gyeonggi and central Busan.

Then where have all the men gone? South, where the jobs are.

In Ansan, Gyeonggi, home to the Banwol Industrial Complex, there are 26,069 single men compared to 15,160 single ladies. In Geoje, South Gyeongsang, home to Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, there are 7,648 single men, more than double the 3,165 single women.
Workers at electronics, steel and shipbuilding companies are mostly men, and a lot of them are lonesome. 71 percent of the single employees at LG Display in Paju, Gyeonggi, are men.
At the Dangjin steel mill in South Chungcheong, 96 percent of its 1,030 single employees are men.
Mr. Lee, who is 36, is one of them. Lee makes the trip to Seoul almost every weekend just to go on blind dates that he hopes will lead to marriage. He has yet to find a mate.
Another worker at the mill says many guys quit their jobs because they can’t find fiancees, and try finding work closer to women, which means Seoul.

The big companies say that unmarried workers are usually less motivated and are more prone to changing jobs. Some companies are trying to help their men get married.

LG Display’s offices in Paju and Gumi, North Gyeongsang, have hired a marriage consulting company and hold mass blind dates every autumn. According to the company, the event was started in 2009 at their workers’ request. At the first event, the company asked for 200 volunteers: 1,000 guys showed up.
Even the men with college degrees are having trouble finding girls.
“Many workers were unable to date during their university days because they were all in male-dominated engineering majors”, said Choi Won-seok, who works for LG Display.
The Korean government has yet to acknowledge the problem, let alone find a solution to all of Korea’s lonely hearts.

While the government has tried to encourage married couples to have more children to boost the birth rate in Korea, it hasn’t tried to get men and women together, which could kill two birds with a single stone.
“We are not aware of the exact statistics because we have never done surveys on single people in areas throughout the country”, said one official in charge of low-birth-rate policies at the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
“We believe that delayed marriages are a problem because more women are deciding to get married later on in life due to their jobs. We are focusing on policies that will help them balance work and family life”.
Meanwhile, Ahn, the 33-year old single woman in Seoul, has resorted to blind dates in the hopes of finding a husband. In the past year, she’s gone on four of them. They weren’t very successful.
“Even if I go on a blind date, it’s usually a man who graduated from a lesser university or has a less prestigious job than mine”, she said. “I don’t believe that I am picky”.

By Lim Mi-jin, Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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About ethlenn

Just usual suspect
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3 Responses to Why Korean girls can’t find guys, and vice versa

  1. NeKo-Rin says:

    This sucks! No wonder Kim Nam Gil said he would remain a loner and Lee Jun Ki will end up single…my poor hunky men, I will take you.

  2. Tyrea says:

    I find it amusing that there is such a large gap between women and men with high education in favor of women in an asian country.

    But anyway, another reason (imo equally strong, maybe even more so) why men don't like well educated and smart women is that on average, they have a hard time coping with the fact that a woman might be smarter than them. It's wonderful if she's smart and intelligent, but as long as he has the edge. Otherwise they feel…threatened. Of course, there are men who really admire and appreciate a really smart woman, but on average they can't stand it. And with asians being asians, it's even worse. My cousin (an exceptionally smart young woman) is studying in tokyo, and she told me many stories of how even japanese men who consider themselves “feminists” can't take a woman being too smart, they need to find even retarded flaws just to feel “smarter”. But of course if he's the master and the guidance, it's perfect. I actually blame their women for reinforcing the dumb, cute, girly girl stereotype too.

    Also, one of my fav examples is einstein with his 1st wife Mileva. She was exceptionally intelligent and the 1st woman to enroll his (i think engineering) university. At first he was fascinated by her intelligence, but then later he started abusing her, putting her down in many ways, for example like telling her she was the ugliest woman on earth, or even beating her. I have no proof but it's a well known fact that she was much better at math than him (and some of his letters to her suggest that his theories were “their” theories), and that just reeks of envy and compensation for that envy.

    Well i'm guessing that when current kids and teenagers grow up, the situation might be slightly different. Or i hope at least.

    Sorry for the long comment, since i've been into “male” things all my life, it's one of the touchier themes for me.

    You know what made me totally gloat a while ago? I accidentally came across this article about how in china where they heavily favor male children there is a shortage of women for men. I just thought “serves you well”. I know that this korean trend is unfavorable for both men and women, but in the long run, this might mean that women there might end up being in a more favourable position.

    The part about being less motivated and more likely to change jobs is pure crap imo. or rather, the companies should improve the working conditions so it won't happen. i do understand that marriage/family is the easy way out though. bah, i hate capitalism.

  3. Ethlenn says:

    Exactly. Men fear smart women because it threatens their domination. Even if woman doesn't want to dominate at all. Smart woman are versatile, they can do everything and somehow they manage to to science and cleaning, while men who have careers think of home chores as something abhorrent and totaly not on their level.
    I do hope men will start appreciate intelligent women more. That makes partnership, and partnership is what keeps humanity alive for so long.

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