|▲ Conventional family and various newly appearing types of family
Modern society is changing at high speed. New ideals come as a new generation comes. One of these changing ideals is the definition of family. Current family laws in Korea define family as a social fundamental unit composed by heterosexual marriage, blood ties, and adoption. However, as the new generation prioritizes their job and personal life, this traditional definition of family is weakening. Thus, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MGEF) recently announced a plan to revise the related laws to expand the legal definition of family. They seek to approve diverse types of families, including unrelated but cohabiting individuals, single parents, unmarried couples, and single-person families as family. On the other hand, there are worries about changing the legal definition of family because it might break the conventional family and even allow homosexual marriage. The Chonnam Tribune asked four students what they think about this issue.
How do you think ‘family’ should be defined?
Bektursunov Orifjon (Uzbekistan): Instead of simply defining family by a dictionary definition, each person should try to define family by their own criteria. I think family should be defined as different individuals related to a group of people who can share love, beliefs and traditions with its members and sometimes participate in common experiences and activities together.
Park Jae-hyeok (Korea): I believe that the current definition of family by Korean law, which defines family as a unit composed by heterosexual marriage, blood ties, and adoption, is appropriate. If the definition gets expanded as the MGEF plans to do, then, individuals will belong to multiple families. If so, the sense of belonging to each family will become weaker and individuals may lose their identity and feel lost.
What is the reason you consider your family “your family”?
Takhmasib Mollaeiubli (Azerbaijan): I think a family is comprised of people who have the biggest influence on each other as individuals, through their norms, values, morals, and ethics. My immediate family have lived with me and raised me. Thus, my parents had the biggest influence on me by how they lived their lives and treated others.
Orifjon: In my family, my parents played the main role to raise our family members. They help me with every step of my life. They have never turned me down or made excuses. They are lovely and have never felt tired sharing their positive best advice. I think this is a true family. On top of that, there are friends who went to my kindergarten and studied at my school and grew up together with me. We spent all our time together and our friendship became stronger. We still keep in touch by calling each other. Despite the fact that we are not together right now, I consider them my family.
How is your current family composed and have you heard of different types of family?
Vu Thi Ngan (Vietnam): Currently I’m living with my aunt and she shows love just like my parents. So my current family is a family connected by blood ties. I have heard of aquaintances with different types of family such as familes composed by homosexual marriages, couples who are not married but cohabiting, and a set of people who feel comfortabale living together.
Jae-hyeok: My family is composed of my parents, my brother and I, who are linked by blood ties. It is a nuclear family that can be seen the most often. I have heard of various families, such as an extended family, single parent family, multi-cultural family, childless family, and grandparent-headed family. I also plan on forming a nuclear family in the future, probably because I have lived with a nuclear family until now.
What is the legal and social definition of family in your country?
Orifjon: Most Uzbek families are nuclear families with parents and grown children living in separate residences and brothers living apart from each other. In Uzbekistan, the regulation of family relations is performed based on the principle of voluntariness of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, equality of personal and property rights of spouses, a priority of family education of children, and ensuring the protection of the rights of minors and disabled family members.
Takhmasib: In Georgia, the law defines family as a social fundamental unit composed by heterosexual marriage, blood ties, and adoption like in Korea. Similarly, in my country, to be recognized as a family by society, you need to have blood ties or normal heterosexual marriage. Otherwise, you might face a lot of problems in daily life. Like hate, bullying or other forms of harassment.
What do you think will be the pros and cons when you define family simply as “the people who live with and support me”?
Takhmasib: Simply defining those who support each other as family has its advantages and disadvantages. Unlike conventional family, one will be able to decide for oneself the most adequate member of one’s family. On the other hand, the people one calls family may not feel any such obligation toward that person who considers them family. This can lead to the rapid break-up of a self-proclaimed family.
Vu Thi Ngan: There will be disadvantages, however, I believe there will be a lot more advantages. Although people who live with me and support me may be called my family, they may not be able to give the exact feeling of attachment the traditional family gives. On the other hand, since this type of family will be made up of members chosen by myself, I will be fully comfortable with my family. So, these people could be able to support me with even greater love than the traditional family.
There are various thoughts about what exactly family is. The most common types of families are those tied by blood or marriage. However, being common does not always mean that is the answer. There will continually be different voices about what the definition of family is and those unfamiliar opinions should be listened to in order for society to become a better place.
By Han Seung-hwan, Tribune Reporter
Bektursunov Orifjon, Senior, Faculty of Business Administration, Uzbekistan
Park Jae-hyeok, Sophomore, Department of Chemistry Education, South Korea
Takhmasib Mollaeiubli, National Invitation Student, Georgia
Vu Thi Ngan, Junior, Department of Korean Language and Literature, Vietnam