South Korea’s Child Support Problem

According to the Korean Herald, South Korea has a massive child support problem. The Korean Child Support Agency reported that,

  • 83 percent of all single parents in South Korea never received any child support payments from non-custodial parents in 2012;
  • In 2015, 80 percent of all Korean single parents were women;
  • Only 4.6 percent of them filed lawsuits;
  • Even among those who won their cases, 77.34 percent said they never received any money, in spite of court orders;
  • Unwed single parents only accounted for 5.34 percent of all single parents who sought help at the agency.

As startling as these numbers are, they are unrepresentative of the true problem because Korea’s Child Support Agency does not have any branches outside of Seoul. So, most parents living outside of any metropolitan Seoul are uncounted.

Many of the stories about the non-custodial parents’ refusal to honor their obligations are upsetting.  Fore example,

Another father who divorced his Philippine-born ex-wife also refused to pay child support for his five-year-old daughter.

His ex-spouse, who has been living at a shelter for victims of domestic violence after they divorced and has been unable to find a job, visited the agency to file a request for child support.

When contacted by the agency, the man claimed he had “no responsibility” to support his daughter as he had given up custody of the child. It was only when the agency informed him that he could automatically lose a portion of his monthly wages from work that he agreed to pay the support.

Korea isn’t the only country with a child support problem. In fact, according to some estimates, the deadbeat U.S. parents owe somewhere around $113 billion in unpaid child support. So, while Korea;s situation is dire, there seems to be a systemic failure when it comes to the collection of child support.


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