Saturday, October 13, 2012


기러기 아빠 (Goose Daddy)

기러기 아빠 (Goose Daddy) 

I believe this topic is sensitive especially that Koreans are so family, custom and culture oriented. It is about a phenomenon in South Korea that I was not aware of and it is a - wild goose father phenomena. I don’t know this term, goose father, until my Korean teacher told us in one of our sessions of Korean Language. What I know is the rising numbers of Korean students in the Philippines. Who’s some are simply studying English and some continued their studies up to college. This Goose Dad phenomenon caught my curiosity, so I’ve done some research to learn and to have an in-depth knowledge about this topic.

South Korea’s government today is not only busy branding their country but also serious in shaping their future society, maybe to be the next ‘English speaking country’ was not on their list but if the country’s current rate of English students in and out of the country continues, there’s a possibility that they would be someday, not to mention their advance education and technology
English education in Korea stayed in mainstream since it was first introduced way back in 1883, when the Joseon government opened an English language school in order to train interpreters. Since then, English has enjoyed the status as the most popular foreign language during the greater part of its existence in what is today South Korea and most of its development has been led and shaped by the educational policies of the highly centralized government.1
I admire Koreans for their endless thirst for excellence and their continuous pursuit of English education.  To have better English education, Koreans sent their children together with the mother to English speaking country while the father was left in Korea to work as hard as he can, living alone, to finance the living and children’s education expenses abroad.  Everyday more and more Korean families were separated, living apart, to learn this universal and hegemonic language called English. Parents, mostly fathers sacrificed themselves to give their children better education and more advantages in life.
 Their main destinations of studying English are United States, Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand and recently Philippines. Mostly Koreans preferred Philippines among other English speaking countries because of some advantages like a. cheap school fees, b. English speaking country c. cheap cost of living d. close in South Korea and f. less stress ( compared in South Korea, where competition in school and work is sky high ).
This phenomenon form the term - Giroegi Appa (Romanization of 기러기 아빠2 which literally means “goose dad"). This term is inspired by an iconic bird, Giroegi -that has a natural devotion on its partner and its offspring, Korean fathers showed their absolute and unconditional love by staying in their homeland for the sake of bright future of their children.
But is it really worth it? What has forced to these loving fathers to be on this state that so lonely and miserable?
Fathers, living alone they become lonely, isolated and restless. Newspaper reports say that some of them often die of heart attacks from overwork at night in their deserted homes or lonely offices, trying to fulfill their main goal in life of sending as much money as possible to their beloved families abroad3. While others suffer from malnutrition due to poor and irregular meals as no one was tending their personal needs.  Like migratory wild geese, these geese dads only visit their families during holidays, because frequent visit and travel expenses would be expensive.
Lately, this scenario became the Korean society’s problem as annually numbers of Giroegi Appa rises tremendously as more and more fathers walked on this fate. Ironically, it was the same society that pushes them to be on that situation. A nation where competition is high and inevitable, where social status, education and reputation are highly valued, the English language almost became the society’s standard, and prerequisite for everything, school, work, and even partner in life. In short, education is highly valued as the path to status, money and success.
According to Kim Seong-kon, a professor of English at Seoul National University and president of the American Studies Association of Korea, ``The unnatural phenomenon of wild geese daddies is a clear sign of something wrong in our society,''  ``Tragically," says Professor Kim, ``the only consolation for lonely Korean fathers is that their children are living in a better place. The equation is simple: If Korea was a good place to live, wild geese fathers would not exist.4"

 1, 3 and 4. - History of English Education in Korea by Kim Eun-gyong
2                   - 기러기 아빠 (Giroegi appa)
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