Family is the primary social unit. It is what our society is made of. It is not built on individuals; rather, it is built on strong families. It is in families that the future generation is raised and some core values are developed. If families are weak, the whole society suffers greatly and where family values erode cultural collapse is imminent.
The recent economic crisis took its toll on the global society and had an adverse effect on marital relationships. It affected families in several ways: financial stress led to an increase in tensions between spouses, financial stress resulted in lower satisfaction with marriage and in higher marital instability. Further, as financial pressures intensified, it led to demoralization, frustration and anger. Spouses withdrew from one another and offered less emotional support, meanwhile blaming each other and arguing over issues. As tensions increased couples were more likely to break up (Davis, 2004).
As the financial crisis spread, it affected the most of industrially developed countries, which have the majority of population living in cities. South Korea is one of those countries, which had been so successful economically for many years and has been affected by the crisis lately. Even though the country is experiencing a speedy recovery from its effects, this successful upturn can be attributed mainly to big businesses. There is a massive economic distress in the ranks of small businesses and indebted householders (Oliver, 2011).
South Korea is in the list of ten top countries with the highest divorce rate. People’s attitude towards divorce is changing fast. If once family-oriented values and patriarchy played a decisive role in the life of Koreans, as the county became more opened to the West, the culture of self-gratification started to penetrate the Korean society. The divorce rate began to grow in 1997 (10 Countries With the Highest Divorce Rates, 2012).
Serious measures should be taken in order to strengthen family relationships. As some of them are universal, some can be purely Korean. The country needs to start propagating a positive view of the family. Since the situation becomes more and more aggravated, a comprehensive package needs to be implemented. The government should operate in unity with social and religious organizations that support family values in order to build a good image of the family in the minds of people.
One of the first steps that seem to be very timely and relevant is to use the mass media to educate about the benefits of strong families. They should stress such characteristics as commitment to each other, emotional support, positive communication and other healthy values and practices (Approaches to Strengthening Families, p .4). Definitions of healthy marriages will help to create the image of strong family in the minds of people.
Organizing government-funded family support services is another way to achieve strengthening families (Strengthening Families, p. 87). Family support will be performed through various programs implemented by specially trained staff, whose responsibility is to provide help in marital issues. That can be done through be one-on-one or family counseling, teaching various classes, providing information, etc.
Building strong families can be achieved with the help of NGOs that have proven themselves globally to be very resultative in the areas family support. Social and religious organizations are known for effective use of volunteers, can penetrate all society levels and will go further than any government agency. They can adapt quickly to rapidly changing circumstances and are able to work autonomously, avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy.
Reviving some of the traditional Korean family values can be a very helpful tool for building strong families. As the elder generation traditionally played an important role in the authority structure, with the ‘modernization’ of the society that role decreased greatly. Some measures should be taken to introduce a ‘modernized’ version of old people’s contribution to the family life. The experience and advice can be very helpful in building healthy marital relationships (Kim, p. 2).
Since family is the primary unit of our society, it is important to use all available means to strengthen this institute. It can be achieved through the proper use of the mass media, government-funded family support services, work of NGOs, reviving traditional institutes and many other methods.