The Economist Magazine profiles a family and we thought to have our readers enjoy not just the story but the survey.
Here’s the story, before she fled south six years ago, Kim Eun Kyoung spent her days in one of North Korea’s many informal markets.
She sold household goods and illicit South Korean tv dramas. In the evening, she did the housework and looked after her daughter.
She says her husband worked just a few hours a day at his state-mandated factory job and spent the rest of his time gambling and drinking.
They hardly ever saw each other. “I would have liked it if he’d helped with the housework, but we lived totally separate lives,” says Ms Kim (not her real name). “The only thing we ever discussed honestly was our economic situation.”
Ms Kim’s story is increasingly common among North Korean women, judging from surveys of those who have fled to the South over the past two decades.
After the collapse of the North’s planned economy and public distribution system in the 1990s, the state grew more relaxed about enforcing labor requirements for women. The regime continues to compel most men to work for the state, but pays most of them very little or nothing altogether.
Women, who are both freer than men to spend time working in the markets and compelled to do so in order to feed their families, have therefore acquired some economic power.
Common insults for “useless” husbands in North Korea include haebaragi (“sunflowers” who sit pretty waiting for their wives to come home) and natjeondeung (“day lamps”, as useful as a lamp turned on in the sunshine).?
This is because in many North Korean families, women now appear to be the main breadwinners—but they also do all the housework. ?
While men must work in badly paid state jobs, women, who are both freer than men to spend time working in the markets and compelled to do so in order to feed their families, have acquired some economic power.?
Continue reading, women outearn their husbands, but still do the chores