Whether a child born prior to the registration of a marriage would be considered "out of wedlock," and the social stigma, if any, that would be attached to such a child by Christians in particular, and Korean society in general [KOR29364.E]

Information on whether a child born prior to the registration of a marriage would be considered "out of wedlock" could not be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Ottawa.

In a 16 April 1996 letter to the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal, an attorney-at-law in Duksu Law Offices, South Korea, described the South Korean family system, the situation of unwed mothers and the social stigmas their illegitimate children may face in Korean society, although not specifically within the Christian community, as follows:

In Korean society, which has been strongly dominated by Confucianism at least in family relations, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for an 'unmarried' woman to raise a child. Even though the numbers of such single mothers and children without 'fathers' are growing, Korea has failed to cope with this situation with proper legal and social mechanisms. Let alone the Family Law, the social welfare system is far short of providing necessary services, to them. While those people who are in need of assistance are ignored by the law, they are sometimes in danger of social 'ostracism'. They are viewed as somewhat 'unusual'. The danger is much greater to those single mothers who have children with husbands with the same family names and origins. It is because such relationships between men and women of the same family name and origin is viewed as 'incest'. It is a big dishonour not just to the parties but also to all of their extended families. Because of this, Korean parents become desperate to dissuade their children when children wish to marry partners of the same family name and origin. While a marriage ceremony take place, it is not a legally recognized marriage. Most couples just live together. ...

...this status as an illegitimate child gives enormous disadvantages to both the child and the mother in their social lives. The 'unchaste' woman and 'illegitimate' child will be isolated from their neighbors. The mother will have a [sic] difficulty in getting a job. The child will meet a great trouble in the school life. While the child grows up, he or she has to admit that his or her life is 'unchaste' or 'illegitimate'. Undoubtedly, few people want to marry him or her.

This situation partly explains the reason that so many Korean babies have been adopted by overseas parents. Social circumstances, not necessarily the legal system, force many single mothers [to] abandon their babies born out of the wedlock, but Koreans are reluctant to adopt those 'illegitimate' children. Lack of social welfare system in health, education, etc. which impose a big burden to parents in raising a child make adoption more troublesome. In addition, Koreans' pre-occupation with the importance of blood-line means few Koreans would consider adopting a child from another 'blood-line.' This is yet another indication of the force of traditional Korean family values.

Additional and/or corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Attorney-at-large, Duksu Law Offices, South Korea. 16 April 1996. South Korean Family System. Letter to the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal. (CISINFO Report No. CX19457)

Additional Sources Consulted

Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Ottawa.

Electronic sources: CISINFO, IRB Databases.