South Korea revises law on student marriage

Some universities have already overturned a ban on marriage and children among undergraduates, but it is still upheld in places

February 9, 2016
Korean wedding dress
Source: iStock

South Korea’s Education Ministry has revised the law to force all universities to allow undergraduates to marry and to have children while studying, attempting to overturn rules that have led some institutions to expel students in the past.

Although each institution has different rules and some universities do not prohibit marriage, in 2013 two students – one female, one male – were expelled from the Korean Armed Forces Nursing Academy after it was confirmed that they were expecting a child, according to The Korea Herald.

The Academy still bars students from marrying, according to the newspaper, and a spokesperson said that it was unclear if the legal change would affect this. “We are not sure if the education law revision will have any effect on us,” the spokesperson told the newspaper.

Ewha Womans University, based in the capital Seoul, scrapped a ban on marriage in 2003, having prohibited it in the late 19th century.

In 1951, this policy forced Kim Young-sam, who would later become president of South Korea, to marry in secret because his bride was a student at the university, the newspaper reported. Son Myung-soon managed to finish her degree by concealing her marriage and even hid her first pregnancy with loose clothing.

The revised education law will also allow students to take time off to care for their newborn children. The Korea Herald reported that until now, students have been forced to quit their studies after giving birth.

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