Life History and Family Changes in Korea and Japan

Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Keong-Suk PARK , Seoul National University, South Korea, Seoul, South Korea
Mari YAMANE , Aichi University of Education, Japan
This study examines important characteristics of family changes and modernities embedded in the life history of Korean and Japanese elders born in the 1920s and 1940s. The elderly born between the periods of the 1920s and 1940s underwent very compressed social changes, such as the imperialism, political turmoil after liberation and ferocious national building, wars, diaspora, and the high economic development. Modern families have been developed and transformed in this vortex of social changes. Reconstructing the memory of the elderly people’s own life history, this study aims to discover characteristics of family changes and modernities in Korea and Japan.

Surveys and interviews were conducted in Seoul, Korea and Nagoya, Japan from 2009 to 2011. Questionnaire covered detailed information about family in origin, educational environments, experiences of adolescent, marriage and their own family, work, and later life.  100 cases in Korea and Japan respectively were collected considering age, gender and economic status of the elderly. In-depth interviews were then followed for the cases with importance in the study and elders’ willingness to interview.    

Several important concepts of modern and family changes are interpreted by comparing life histories of Korean and Japanese elders. Modern construction of patriarchal family and its change are compared. In regard to the period of childhood and the youth, the mixture of kinship and modern rearing, gendered education, and influences of imperial war and Koran war, diaspora and repatriation were interpreted. In the interplay between the individual adulthood and the social period of high economic growth, mixed relation with extended and nuclear family and ideas of gender role division were compared.  Finally, attitudes in inheritance, after-death, and family support in later life and social changes were compared.