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[VIDEO NEWS] Being a single mom in South Korea

Oct 30,2018
1) “I tested positive on the first pregnancy test I ever took.”

2) “What should I do? What is going to happen to my college life? How am I going to tell my parents? What about my life and dreams?”

3) “Everything was scary.”

4) On the afternoon of Oct. 18, CJ Azit in Daehak-ro, central Seoul. Single moms appeared on stage in the musical “Heshetag.”

5) “Heshetag” is a musical made in collaboration with Intree, an association for single moms, and Bella Muse, a production company focused on cultural content.

6) “Most roles were assigned to people according to their actual experiences.” - Kim Meong-ji

7) “I got choked up a lot during practices, because I was reminded of my past hardships by stories told by other single moms.”

8) “I don’t like standing in front a lot of people or being paid attention to, so this was a little hard to take in at first. I was hesitating over whether I should do this or not. Then, people told me not to stress out, because nothing mattered as long as I tried my best.” - Kim Da-hyun

9) “Also, the atmosphere was really good as all other actors were encouraging me.”

10) How is it to live as a single mother?

11) “When I take my child to a kids cafe or to the Han River on holidays or the weekends, people ask me questions like ‘Where’s the dad on a holiday?’ a lot.” - Kim Meong-ji

12) “There were criticisms such as, ‘Those moms are getting subsidies by using their children as an excuse not to work,’ and ‘Why aren’t those single moms working even when they can?’”

13) “Whenever I get on the subway or the bus, people start saying things like ‘the baby is really cute,’ ‘a baby has given birth to a baby’ and ‘how come you have a child at such a young age?’” - Kim Da-hyun

14) “There are really creepy replies like ‘It’s fun to impregnate a girl and then run away.’”

15) “When I go shopping, it is heartbreaking not to be able to buy toys for my child [because of not having enough money]. I have to wait for the facility to buy presents for my kid. Toys cost only about 50,000 won [$44], and in those moments, I really want to be able to provide more for my child.” - Kim Meong-ji

16) “I feel the same way.” - Kim Da-hyun

17) “Even baby snacks are expensive.” - Kim Meong-ji

18) “The condition for receiving subsidies is that you have to be financially independent from the government once the baby is 100 days old. To achieve that, single moms have to acquire qualifications or jobs. It means that single moms are supposed to be preparing for jobs even before the babies are born, but child care facilities do not take babies that are only 100 days old.” - Kim Meong-ji

19) “I am not qualified for subsidies because of my parents’ properties. However, I get nothing from my parents and I am all on my own.
The government just keeps saying ‘no’ and this makes me really depressed.” - Kim Da-hyun.

20) The most important thing is that I have done nothing wrong.

21) Therefore, there is no reason to hide or be downcast. This truth is the most important thing.

22) “After all necessary expenditures, the money left allowed for my personal use is only about 10,000 or 20,000 won.” - Kim Meong-ji

23) “I felt the happiest when I saved up that money and bought matching clothes for me and my baby.”

24) “I was a type of person who just pursued superficial happiness before I had a child. I didn’t know how to be really happy in the past. After giving birth, I feel happy at the most trivial things and am grateful toward the small things.” - Kim Da-hyun

25) “When my baby just started walking, she hugged me while saying ‘mommy.’ That felt really weird. This is such a beautiful baby. Why am I the only one seeing this pretty baby? I hope other people get to see this, too.”

26) “My dream is to go to college and major in social welfare. I try to remember how social workers helped me, and I want to be able to help other single moms or just people who need help in the same way I was helped.” - Kim Meong-ji

27) “I am learning how to make handmade shoes at the moment. I will continue learning. My wish is to have a personal brand in which I can have confidence. I have had a lot of help. I want to earn some money and pay back people who have helped me.”

28) I want to raise my child in a society without prejudice and I also want my child to not grow up to be prejudiced. I am living today to the fullest.

Video sourced from JoongAng Ilbo
Video produced by Hong Sang-ji
Translated by Chung Yu-soo
Edited by Hoyeon Yoo