The Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network advocates for the rights of unwed pregnant women, unwed mothers and their children in Korea. The Network’s goal is to enable Korean women to have sufficient resources and support to keep their babies, and thrive in Korean society, rather than feel compelled to give up their children for adoption or risk a life of poverty.
Founded by Dr. Richard Boas, an American father who adopted a Korean daughter twenty years ago, the Network’s primary focus is on raising awareness in Korea and amongst Korean groups in the US to effect positive change. The Network aims to educate, inform and promote discussion about the difficulties facing unwed mothers and their children in Korea in order to elevate their economic, political and social potential in society.
※ The Reason Why We use the Term, Unwed Mother, instead of Single Mother
We are fully aware that the term unwed mother is stigmatized and no longer used in most English speaking countries. It is also a stigmatized word in Korea and therefore it is commonly replaced with termssuch as “not-married mother”, “non-wed mother”,“miss mom”, or simply “single mother”.
At first, when we started KUMSN to advocate the rights of women who give birth to children out of wedlock, we also hesitated to use the stigmatized term, “unwed mother”, and wanted to use just “mother” or “single mother”. But we found that when we used the term “single mother” or just“mother”, it was very difficult to raise awareness about all the difficulties these women were facing. These difficulties include being forced to abort their pregnancies, coerced into giving up their babies for adoption, or pretending they were divorced or widowed in order to continue living in their communities. These women faced these tremendous difficulties because the concept of an “unwed” mother was neither understood nor accepted by mainstream Korean society until groups like KUMSN started advocating on their behalf. When we talk about this issue using the term “single mothers”, many people understood them to be divorced or widowed women. However, as we know, divorced and widowed women are rarely pressured to either abort or give their baby up for adoption. Because of these differences we’ve decided to use the term “unwed mothers” in order to let people know their unique difficulties clearly.
Among feminists groups, there is a tendency to use the term “not-married mother”. The reason why we do not use this term is that it implies the women have chosen to become single mothers. Therefore it mistakenly implies that these women chose all the processes voluntarily –getting pregnant, giving birth to their babies and raising them outside of marriage. While the term “un-wed” suggests that the decision to remain single was perhaps incidental, and the woman may choose to marry at a later point, the term “not-married” implies the woman made a deliberate decision to eschew marriage. Because it implies self-determination on the part of the mother, it also weakens the man’s responsibility to help raise the child. In Korea, very few fathers take responsibility for their babies if they are born out of wedlock. Therefore, it is difficult to raise the issue of the man’s responsibility when the term “not-married mother” is used.
With this in mind, we believe it is necessary to use the term “unwed mothers” so that society can more accurately understand all the difficulties that women who give birth out of wedlock experience.
Even though the voices of unwed mothers who chose TO RAISE THEIR babies are being heard, we hope someday the birth mothers or natural mothers who had to give up their babies will come together and speak out as well. Only then will our society experience the social freedom and tolerance that is already commonplace in most western countries.
Address : #201 369-9, Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul 121-897 Korea | TEL : 82-2-734-5007, 3007 | FAX : 82-2-720-5007