The Single Mother Stigma

Not every family is comprised of a mother, father and a couple of heterosexual children. Those that don’t fit the mold are labeled “not normal,” and face stigma.

After Choi Hyung-sook went on TV as a single mother, fewer customers started coming to her hair salon. Eventually, she shut down. Some go through much worse: They lose their jobs, get shunned from other family members…. Many give up their children for adoption, sometimes even without the mother’s own consent and forcibly through other family members who don’t want to bear the shame. Since the 1950s, the majority of Korean children adopted internationally came from single mothers.

There are around 24,000 single mothers in South Korea. There may be more, but many remain hidden, ashamed of their “abnormality.” Choi Hyung-sook is the founder and director of NGO In-Tree, which fights for the rights of single mothers. She says, Speak Up. Or else the world isn’t going to change. Here’s her story. 

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Jieun Choi is staff writer at Korea Exposé. She has worked in the art industry and startups in Hong Kong and Australia.