Women in Korea (2)-1 Swish of skirt in 1980s

The ‘swish of skirt’ means that mothers are getting overly involved in the schooling for their children. During the 1980s swish of skirt phenomena was serious social problem in Korea. Some mothers move into areas concentrated with of private academic educational institutions such as Gang Nam School District 8. Also the expensive private lessons were prevalent in that area so Korean government conducted crackdown people who were related to those expensive private lessons.


Tutors who were involved in the expensive private lessons were brought to the police station in 1988
image from Kyung Hyang Newspaper, <http://news.zum.com/articles/25543690>

Mothers in 1980s, they thought that entering their children to good university (SKY, Seoul University, Korea University, Yonsei University) is their goal and duty as mothers because mothers believed that qualification (especially graduating a good university) determines their children’s lives.


Mothers (ajummas) waited and prayed for their children to pass a university entrance examination withough leaving while students were taking the exam.
image from: Samsung & You Premium, <https://www.samsungnyou.com/7486/>


This education fever of South Korean mothers was continuously overheated to make their children entering the good universities. Thus, Korea stands the first regarding domestic expenses on education in the world. Since 1980s, women in Korea playing both roles, “professional mother” and “professional housewives”. They are like a superwomen. As I mentioned before, ajummas are superwomen.

We still have education fever and ajummas of course still concern their children’s education. For example, there are Helicopter mothers and Kangaroo mothers. They are overly involved into not only their children’s education, but also their private lives (e.g. hobby, a network of friends, jobs and even marriage).


image from <http://www.opnews21.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=365>


 image from <http://news.donga.com/3/all/20061121/8375428/1>

But I think the way of ‘swish of skirt’ changes into sort of ‘digital swish of skirt’ in these days. In other words, mothers (ajummas) in these days became smart for their children’s education. This means that many of ajummas (mothers) use their smartphones to search information and useful sources for their children’s education. I will talk about ‘Digital swish of skirt’ in next post.

Women in Korea (2) Before IMF

As I mentioned in the previous post, women in Korea after the Korean War during 1960s to 1970s (of course women workers were still working hard in 1980s as well) made a significant economic growth. After that period,  the majority of middle-aged males led the remarkable economic growth in manufacturing especially 1970s to 1980s. Men as breadwinners and women as housewives were considered as a matter of course. Thus becoming a full time housewives was a common thing after marriage for women and being a ‘wise mother and good wife’ was dreaming image for married women in Korea at that time. Most married women during 1980s had to quit their jobs because they had less opportunity to work in the company compared with married men.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.22.16 PM.png

Married women became ‘wise mother and good wife’ to raise their children and support husbands at home, whereas married men’s duty was ‘working hard to support their family’ as breadwinners. So Korean men worked the longest hours in the world because they had to work from early morning to midnight and even during the weekends. For this reason, most Korean families became ‘father-absent and mother-involved’ family.


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(image from ‘Reply 1988′ tvn http://program.interest.me/tvn/reply1988)

Role of mothers is increasingly significant for their children because most families were ‘father-absent and mother-involved’. At the same time, mothers made sacrifices for their children and they especially gave full support of their children’s education.

(This can’t be explained simply but I can assume that most Korean mothers were not working outside home at that time so they put their heart and soul into educating their children. They believed that entering good universities were the most important thing for their children in Korean society)

So ‘the swish of skirt’ was occurred among mothers in 1980s and 1990s. And it still remains. I will write about ‘the swish of skirt’ for next posting.