Thursday, February 26, 2009

Swinging in Korea....ah not exactly what you are thinking

I know, unfairly I baited you into reading this posting. I happened to come across this scene of a father pushing his daughter on a traditional Korean swing. Korean swings are built 12 meters high and about 3-4 meters across. It seems kind of strange that there would be such a requirement for swings to be built this way, but as my friend explained to me, it was often the only way a girl could get a view from outside of the high walls of their home compounds.

Girls were segregated from the male population and marriages were largely arranged by the parents. Still, to this day, for a majority of Korean women, permission is usually secured before a young woman can marry. There is also the requirement of a dowry and the parents of the suitor also has the right to exercise their approval of the marriage based on the family status of the young woman.

To complicate matters further, it is common practice here for young adults to remain at home until they are married. It is unusual to find a single person living alone. Special circumstances must exist for a young person to remain on their own. One of the women I met up in Seoul who is 36 (in Korean years...they turn one at about three months of age) who still lives with her parents because she is single.

Ultra conservative does not begin to describe the traditions that are deeply imbedded.

Ah, back to the purpose of the swing...I also suspect it was a way for families to have interested suitors catch a glimpse of their daughters. Sometimes a glimpse is enough to stir a man's heart.

Presently, in Korean society, a woman does not have the status a man holds. Of the observations I have made, I would be a scorned woman here. For a woman does not divorce her husband, the husband divorces the woman.


beltenebros said...

very interesting. your next post talks about a discrete park where lovers cuddle, and this one about the ultra-conservative segregation of the sexes examined from the design of a swing set. i imagine the divide is greater in rural S. Korea than in urban centres. interesting how the design of a swing set has such historical implications.

and i like the comment about 'sometimes a glimpse is enough to stir a man's heart." very true.

Marilyn said...

The park, is full of a lover's lane of the 1950s...