SEOUL, Dec. 29 (Korea Bizwire) – A college student once caused nationwide controversy when she said on a TV show that short men are “losers”, and “men should at least be 180cm (5’11”) tall.”
Living as a Korean man can be tough. There are more than a few expectations to live up to, especially from a society that seemingly demands perfection when it comes to occupation, wealth, educational background, family background, and of course, looks.
Similarly, the expectations that Korean men have for their future spouses have also become more demanding in recent years, especially given the increasingly active role of women in society.
So what are some of the qualifications required for the perfect Korean marriage partner?
Duo Human Life Institute – operated jointly by local matchmaking company Duo and Seoul National University psychology professor Choi In-cheol – conducted a nationwide survey last month to shed some light on this question, targeting 1,000 (520 men, 498 women) single Koreans aged between 24 and 40.
First, the average annual income expected from a future husband was 49.97 million won ($41,328), and from a wife, 42.11 million won.
Although the figures were a decline from the 54.17 million won and 46.31 million won (respectively) reported last year, they were a 14.9 percent and 33.2 percent increase from 2011 (43.48 million won, 10.5 million won), indicating that the increasing number of economically active women is also leading to higher expectations among men seeking life partners.
In terms of total assets expected, the figures came in at 265,540,000 won for men, and 205,540,000 won for women, which were again a decline from the 2015 survey (by 9.3 percent and 12.7 percent respectively).
Lower expectations of wealth were reflective of the prolonged economic downturn, and the instability and uncertainty common in Korean society, Duo said.
The perception of marriage differed based on gender, income, and educational background.
Of the women surveyed, 28.1 percent said marriage was a “must”, compared to 37.9 percent of men, while the higher the income, and the higher the level of education, the more likely marriage was deemed to be of greater importance.
Only 20.5 percent of respondents earning less than 20 million won a year said marriage was a must, whereas the number increased to 31.1 percent for those earning between 20 million won and 30 million won a year, and to 45.1 percent among those making more than 50 million won per year.
The rates were 23 percent for high school graduates or less, 32.8 percent for college (undergraduate) graduates, and 44.2 percent for those who had completed a graduate degree.
Government or public corporation jobs (13 percent) were the most popular type of employment for both men and women, mainly because they often guarantee a stable livelihood until and after retirement.
Second in line expected out of husbands were doctors or pharmacists (11.4 percent), followed by office jobs (9.5 percent), whereas for wives, teachers (12.3 percent) and doctors or pharmacists (11.2 percent) were also popular.
When it came to educational background, a four-year college degree was preferred according to 46.8 percent of men and 54 percent of women.
The average ages that survey participants planned to get married at were 34.7 for men and 33.6 for women, higher than the actual average marriage ages of 32.6 and 30, respectively in 2015 (Statistics Korea). A greater number of men preferred their partner be three or four years younger (33.9 percent), whereas women preferred those three or four years older (25.5 percent).
Finally, the ideal height expected from husbands was 175cm and higher, but less than 180cm (39.4 percent), and from wives, 160cm and higher and less than 165cm (32.5 percent). Ultimately, the optimal heights were 177.5cm for men and 164.7cm for women.
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)