How do South Korea, Japan, and China compare when it comes to women’s rights?

Joon’s answer here is totally biased. He admits that he’s never been to China and comments like these

From all these upvotes you would assume that Korean women have the best rights out of all three countries, but that’s totally false.

First of all it’s best not to take an answer like this from a Korean man. With all due respect to Korean men, I think a large portion of Korean men have little to no sympathy for women in their country. They have no idea how much Korean women have to go through.

I can speak from a foreigner’s perspective, having lived in Korea, been to China and Japan, and having female friends from all these countries.

China has by far the best women’s rights out of all 3 countries.

For example if you’re looking at the percentage of female CEOs (often a good measuring stick for breaking the glass ceiling) – China has the second highest proportion of female CEOs in the world List of female top executives – Wikipedia – this exceeds even the USA by quite a big margin. Compare this to Japan and Korea, where female CEOs only make up a mere 2% of the companies.

China has far better gender equality due to a unique set of circumstances – Mao Zedong held a belief that ‘women hold up half the sky’ and as a result, women were treated the same as men in Mao era China. The One Child policy further gave women more power, by creating a gender imbalance. More men in China than women, and supply and demand rules means that women get to hold the power in relationships. A Chinese man has no chance of marrying if he doesn’t have a house and a car at least.

In general everyday life, Chinese women enjoy great career flexibility compared to Japanese and Korean women. There are a substantial portion of Chinese women who will say their dream career is to be an entrepreneur and starting their own business. In contrast, a large portion of Japanese and Korean women’s dream jobs is to be a flight attendant. In China, such a job is not desired by women who consider themselves successful. Instead, you’ll notice that alot of startup CEOs, entrepeneurs, investors, and businesspeople in China are women. In Korea, these fields are dominated by men. 

There are rarely pure housewives in China who stay home all day, whereas Korea and Japan have a substantial percentage of housewives who do nothing but stay home and take care of their babies. Chinese women are almost always the financial head of the household and manage the finances. China is the best example of a matriarchal society where the women dominate the family. In Korea the men dominate the household.

I can’t speak for Japan on this but since I lived in Korea, I know that Koreans have traditional ceremonies on Lunar New Year and Chuseok (Thanksgiving) where the women have to traditionally prepare all the food for the guests and relatives. The men don’t have to do anything. I don’t think such a tradition still exists in China.

There are a lot of female-only occupations in Korea and Japan (for example most hairdressers are female, airline attendants are almost always female, etc) whereas in China, most jobs can be performed by both genders. In addition, the requirement for females in Korea to work a job almost always involves appearance since they are required to submit a photo with their resume and the job market is competitive enough that employers can choose to hire only the prettiest girls regardless of whether the occupation is related or not.

Women’s rights in China is far better than Korea as well. Abortion was only legalized in 2019 in Korea, whereas abortion had been legal for over 3 decades in China. The punishment for sexual assault/rape in Korea is a mere few years in prison. The operator of the sex trafficking hub Soranet for example only got a few years and the 200k+ males who were in the Nth telegram scandal (Nth room case – Wikipedia) are not going to be punished at all. This is not even mentioning the spy camera epidemic in Korea (Hundreds of South Korean motel guests were secretly filmed and live-streamed online). In some cases the Korean justice system actively protects sexual predators such as in this case Korean child porn operator’s US extradition denied where the owner of the largest sexual porn site in Korea hosting all manner of illegally filmed women, got less than 2 years in jail. JJY, the kpop star who gangraped a girl, was only sentenced to 2 years in jail. In China, such crimes would have much more severe punishment.

In addition, women in China get significant other advantages over Korean/Japanese women. They are not under as much pressure to put on makeup or dress up as much. They don’t have as much financial burden – In Korea/Japan, the women will still have to pay for some costs of dating and marriage and buying a house, but in China the men bear almost 100% of those costs. There is a dowry in China where the men have to pay a substantial amount of money to marry, but it does not exist in Korea/Japan. These are more negatives for Chinese men then they are positives for Chinese women, but I feel like I should still mention them.

Also from what I’ve seen, meeting Chinese women, Korean women and Japanese women and traveling in their countries, Chinese women have much more freedom with regards to how they can express themselves. A tomboy in Korea or Japan (especially Korea), is not very welcomed by their society, but in China tomboys exist everywhere. This is related to what I said about them not being under as much pressure to dress or do makeup or behave a certain way, whereas especially in Korea you will find almost all women dress or do makeup in a feminine manner and are expected to behave in a ‘softer, gentler’ way. You should already know this if you watch Korean or Japanese dramas but Korean/Japanese girls have to wear revealing school uniforms year round – Chinese girls do not. Thats another thing enforcing the feminine thing onto girls in those societies.

Chinese women have maternity leave, and women have 98 days of maternity leave, including 15 days of prenatal leave; for dystocia, extra 15 days of maternity leave; for multiple births, 15 days of maternity leave for every extra baby. Wages will be paid during maternity leave without affecting welfare benefits and full attendance awards. During a woman’s pregnancy, the company shall not be expelled for any reason. During pregnancy, men are also not allowed to file for divorce.

Korean women are often shocked when they travel to China and see how strong Chinese women are there. For example, you will see women physically abusing men in China. This is unheard of in Korea and I have never seen it there. There is more pressure on Korean and Japanese women to be traditionally feminine in their society compared to Chinese women.

Also.. Joon’s observational evidence about Korean women being strong is biased because he might have seen it more since he lives in Korea. From a foreigner’s perspective, I’ve seen Chinese women beat their husbands and boyfriends as a regular occurrence. It happens all the time. I’ve seen guys crying and begging on their knees in front of their girlfriends. Never seen it in Korea from the times I lived there. I have however, seen the reverse in Korea – men beating their gfs and wives. This kind of domestic abuse, the Korean police will just ignore and dismiss as a ‘domestic matter’ and won’t interfere with it.

Chinese women not only expect the men to pay for everything, but they don’t have to anything in return unlike Korean women. There’s no Valentine’s day – White day reciprocal gift exchange.. it’s always the men buying the women gifts. The women never pay for anything on dates, whereas in Korea the women will pay for at least the coffee. Oh yeah, and there’s a massive dowry the groom’s family have to pay the bride when they marry in China. That doesn’t exist in Korea.

Now let’s look at compared to South Korea

South Korea is one of the most gender unequal developed societies right now, and part of the reason is the deep pervasive influence of Confucianism which is inherently gender unequal.

The women are traditionally tasked with more responsibilities such as taking care of the baby, cooking, taking care of her husband, her husband’s parents, preparing all the food for Chuseok etc

In modern Korean society puts even more pressure and burden on them, women are also expected to dress up everyday, look pretty all the time, and also work.

Korean men on the other hand, just have to work. That’s it. they don’t have these auxiliary responsibilities.

In addition, there’s other problems in Korean society working against women. Women are discriminated for their appearance, women can be fired if they become pregnant, women are mostly the victims of sex crimes, which the male perpetrators are often given lenient sentences for, women often receive 3x-4x the punishment for crimes than males do because the law is uneven, abortion was only legalized in 2019 (for comparison China legalized it in the 1980s), which goes to show how behind Korea is for women’s rights.

This results, unsurprisingly, in a society with the highest young female suicide rates and many young women who don’t want to marry (with a very different reason from young Chinese women FYI – young Chinese women want to stay single because they value career over marriage, young Korean women stay single because they have too many responsibilities when they marry)

Korea could be considered a misogynist society sometimes. Here are some examples.

Korean Twitch Streamer Takes Her Own Life After Being Pinned “Feminist” By A Far-Right YouTuber And Getting Cyber-Bullied By Male Extremists

Man taken into custody for killing wife with sword

Horrific crimes reignite debate over death penalty

Prosecutors seek death penalty for man accused of killing 3 women of same family

Man cleared of attempted house break-in charge because he ‘did not turn doorknob’

Vague rules expose women to dating violence in Korea

Less than 30% of women think Korean society is safe: report

South Korea’s ‘dating violence’ problem exposed by young woman’s death

Please Don’t Walk Away Next Time You Hear a Scream

Busan authorities determine act to be self-defense

^ imagine being prosecuted for defending yourself from sexual assault!

‘At least 97 women killed by husbands, boyfriends last year’

‘I was humiliated’: The continuing trauma of South Korea’s spy cam victims

Molka – Wikipedia

Police reveal identity of man who stalked, murdered ex-girlfriend

‘Stalked for rape’: Fear grows among women living alone

Miryang gang rape – Wikipedia

Cho Doo-soon case – Wikipedia

^ lenient penalties for sex crimes and rape have been an issue in Korea for its entire history. In China, this would result in the death penalty.

Seocho-dong public toilet murder case – Wikipedia

^ “The police later refuted his claims and said the incident was not a hate crime against women, as claimed, but one driven by mental illness”

This is complete BS. This is literally misogynism. Not the fake misogynism that Western women like to tweet about everywhere about playboys and stuff, but real actual hatred towards women and he gets a pass for it?

Nth Room case – Wikipedia

Horrific crimes reignite debate over death penalty

In addition foreign women often come to Korea brainwashed by Kpop and Kdramas and looking for their dream ‘oppa’ and stuff like this happens:

Country where rape is ‘ignored’

Raped, assaulted, nowhere to find help: Foreign women speak out about their experiences of sexual violence in Korea

Raped and alone in a foreign land

Along with this comes a backlash against the feminism that has arose in response to the gender inequality in Korea

What do you think about South Korean feminism?

That’s most of the answers you see here ^ condemn

Over half of Koreans support abolishing gender ministry: poll

^ Korea just elected a President that will abolish the womens’ rights ministry

1 in 6 Korean women quit their jobs after marriage

Couple sentenced to 30 and 12 years, respectively, for fatal abuse of niece

^ the man and the woman commit the exact same crime. The woman gets 30 years in jail and the man gets 12. How is that fair?

[News Focus] Korea to top OECD gender pay gap, again

^ Korea has the highest gender pay gap in the OECD.

So.. it’s not even close. China has far better women’s rights than Korea (and Japan) do





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