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View gap between Korean, Japanese men on income, job status, marriage

More Korean men tend to view income and job status as essential factors for a thriving dating life compared to Japanese men, a recent report said.

The report, released in late 2017, delves into the correlation between youths' economic self-reliance and family formation in Korea and Japan.

The project, led by researcher Cho Sung-ho of the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, cites two studies that analyzed Koreans aged 15-30 and Japanese aged 18-70.

Clear differences were spotted between the two countries. For Korean men, income and job status played important roles in dating. Some 35 percent of employed Korean men said they were in relationships, while only 26.4 percent of unemployed men responded they were dating, according to the report, citing statistics from 2012.

In Japan, meanwhile, economic status played a less important role in dating. The rate of unemployed men in relationships was higher at 31.1 percent, while only 29.2 percent of employed men said they were dating.

Japanese men also responded that financial factors had less to do with their romantic lives than sociability and common values. 

Office workers cross the street in Gwanghwamun, Seoul, on March 16. (Yonhap)
Office workers cross the street in Gwanghwamun, Seoul, on March 16. (Yonhap)

Among the employed, reputability and stability of jobs factored into both Korean and Japanese men’s dating lives. In both countries, more men employed in permanent positions were reported to be dating than men in temporary positions.

The correlation proved especially strong in Korea. Some 55.4 percent of men in government positions and 50.4 percent of men working at conglomerates replied they were in relationships.

In Japan, meanwhile, there was a smaller gap between figures for workers at big companies and those at small and midsized enterprises. Rather, more people working at small companies and running their own businesses were reported to be dating. The report noted the differences in culture, stating that in Japan’s economy, individual business owners tended to have more expertise and earn a significant income.

There was also a higher correlation between marriage and financial capacity in Korea than in Japan, according to the report. 

Korean women say ‘no’ to government-led marriage initiatives

The report included comments by Korean and Japanese interviewees on their perceptions toward government-led initiatives to facilitate marriage opportunities.

The majority of Korean women were skeptical, hinting that marriage was an individual choice and not an area for government intervention, the report said.

Japanese men and women, however, showed more positive responses, welcoming increased access to prospective suitors. “I participated in an event led by a city organization a while ago,” said a 30-something Japanese man, according to the report.

Men and women in both countries viewed financial capacity as essential to marriage.

The report offered policy suggestions resulting from the study. In terms of financial capacity, “it is necessary to alleviate the gap between large enterprises and SMEs, and to expand (the range) of stable jobs young people can choose from,” it said.

In terms of family formation, “it is necessary to raise benefits,” the report said.

By Rumy Doo (