Men in Korea do not do housework or care for children. It's a stereotype, but one many Koreans would say is accurate. In fact, so many Koreans identify with the role of father as one of financial provider -- and not caretaker or homemaker -- that a new reality show has taken the country by storm, as reported in PRI . "Superman is Back" features celebrity dads who must spend 48 hours taking care of their children without mom. While the concept may not seem so outrageous to Americans, it has started a conversation about changing cultural norms in Korea. Indeed, according to PRI, the Korean government has even started a campaign titled, "Oht Boda Appa," or, "A Dad More Than a Paycheck."
Yet, notwithstanding the increasing pressure for fathers to be more involved in parenting, the pressure to succeed financially and in the workplace has not abated. As Heidi Shin of PRI reports:
"The problem is — Korean men work some of the longest hours in the developed world. Many don’t head home until 10 or 11 at night. Culturally it’s taboo to leave the office before your boss. And then there’s the requisite drinking with colleagues after hours. It’s not until they’re empty nesters that many Korean dads realize they’re outsiders to their own families — and they regret it."
Ironically, while Koreans are beginning to tally the costs of a work-centric culture, Americans are moving towards increasing the role of work. A recent New York Times article on Amazon.com's all-consuming work culture described a workplace much like the one described above: employees working late through the night and spending more time with colleagues than with family. Many commenters on the article applauded Amazon's policies, citing a need for American companies to be more globally competitive. It would be interesting to hear what these same commenters would say after a viewing of Superman is Back.