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Friday, December 15, 2006

Filial Duty

In the teacher's lounge, one of my Korean coworkers confided that today was his last. He didn't look happy. I asked why he was leaving.

His father is ill and in hospital. He said it's his obligation to quit work, even though he recently started at the school and needs money. His apartment is packed in boxes. Tomorrow he moves into his parents' home, two hours south of Suwon and three hours south of his fiancee in Seoul; he's making quite the sacrifice.

I think it's despicable how popular retirement homes are, in North America. Conditions are often poor. At the same time, would I spoon-feed my father for a year, sacrificing my own relationship and getting poorer and poorer not working? It's hard to say.

I told the teacher his decision is respectable and brave. His heart seemed so heavy. He's in his early 30's and anxious to start his own family. Another Korean told me the younger generation doesn't feel the same obligation. I asked her how she felt. Because her parents funded her education, she believes it's her duty to support them in their older years.

Her perception is that American/Canadian parents never pay for their children's education- that kids are independent out of high school and that's why they don't feel a similar duty. But there has long been Eastern emphasis on filial duty/ moral obligation for ones' elders.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you recently been in Vietnam?
What is the picture above about?

Eva said...

No. I hope I didn't offend you. I searched for an 'elderly Asian' photo on Flickr and this was the most intriguing one I found! (Irrelevant but intriguing ; )

Anonymous said...

No you didn't offend me, why should you? I'm not Vietnamese or Korean.
I was just wondering how a picture of Vietnam is related to your experiences in Korea.