Do you know anyone currently living with their boyfriend or girlfriend? Most people nowadays answer yes to this question, including Dankookians (students of Dankook University). There is an old Korean proverb that says ‘A boy and a girl should not sit together after they have reached the age of seven.’ With his mentality, it is no wonder many Koreans have had long held conservative view sexuality.
However, the times are changing and with this, so are the opinions of younger Korean generations towards pre-marital sex. The Korean TV show, ‘Witch Hunt’, is an example of this evolving social atmosphere. In that program, cast members often recount intimate details of their love lives and instead of being criticized for the frankness of the script, most viewers enjoy it. This program and the media in general have had a strong influence on people’s open mindedness towards freer sexual expression. Today people as young as teenagers are searching for pornography via their computers or mobile-phones. This evolving relaxed approach to sex has had a direct impact on the number of Koreans choosing to live together before marriage, as the necessity of chastity before marriage is lessening.
In this article, The Dankook Herald (DKH) surveyed Dankookians about the topic of pre-marital sex and also sought out their thoughts on living with a partner before marriage. Following our research the DKH offers some simple advice to students thinking about cohabitating with their partners. The first question in the survey asked “Would you have sex before marriage?” 70% of male students said yes, while only slightly less, 60% of female students, agreed. The second question was “Do you think it is necessary to live together with your boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage?” 45% of male students said yes it was necessary, while only 25% of female students were in favor of the idea. The results indicate that more than 50% of both male and female students are open minded when it comes to the topic of sex before marriage. However, when it comes to the matter of living together before marriage, the response was less one sided. People who were in favor of couples living together before marriage said that the set up provides the partners with an opportunity to learn more about each other, the stuff they have in common and their differences, and whether or not they could see themselves living with them for the rest of their lives. It’s hard to tell all this stuff from just dating. These proponents go as far as to suggest that couples who live together before they say ‘I do’, have a greater long term success rate in their marriage. They also highlighted many other pros such as the many cost saving measures it supports. They can live in one house, instead of buying or renting two houses, and buy shared daily supplies together making it cheaper in the long run. However, people who were against premarital living arrangements gave two reasons to support their position. The first reason is that they believe it encourages couples to take on relationships without the responsibility of working on them when times get rough. The second reason they are against the idea is that there could be unexpected situations, such as pregnancy, that arise, forcing the couple to commit whether they are ready or not or worse still, forcing on partner to abandon the relationship and the responsibilities of parenthood.
As Dankookians suggested, there are pros and cons to living with your partner before marriage. On the pro side, it is more economical and they can use the time to get to know each other better and ultimately decide if they could live together long term. However, the naysayers suggest several problems with the idea. First future partners could be hesitant to commit to someone who has already lived with another lover. Moreover, they argue that people don’t make a serious commitment to the relationship when they are just living together and this leads to serious problems. If there is an unplanned pregnancy, for instance, the couple may be forced to marry or the man may abandon his girlfriend and unborn child, if he isn’t interested in the responsibility. In the latter case, there is little the woman can do because unwed mothers are not protected under Korean law. In fact, there is little if any, infrastructure in place to help support single mothers and their children in this country.
As many students have expressed, if couples don’t have a mature approach to a sex and all the responsibilities associated with it, lots of problems will occur when living with their partner or by simply engaging in a sexual relationship. Therefore, it is important that both partners understand the differences between men and women, and do not overly emphasize their desires over their responsibilities.
Each experience has their merits and demerits, and nobody has the moral authority to judge whether your personal choices are right or wrong. However, we do need to be mindful that along with our decisions, come responsibilities for the consequences, of the choices we make. By taking responsibility for our actions, Dankookians can arguably say nobody will be hurting themselves or their partners with whatever decision they make.