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South Korea is, to say the least, not a country know for dads going on paternity leave.

And if you want to paint a gloomy picture of the state of South Korean men taking time off with their children it is easy to find depressing statistics.

Like the fact that just 3,421 Korean men took out paternity leave in 2014.
Or that fathers only make up 5 percent of parents taking leave.
Or that the Korean Women’s Development Institute found that just 2% of Korean men had taken out leave.

But then again, if you prefer to take a positive approach to what is happening in South Korea you can instead read the statistics like this:

The 3421 men who took paternity leave in 2105 was double the number who did so in 2012.
Or, that the number of fathers taking paternity leave increased by 40% last year.
Or that 64% of Korean men are WILLING to take paternity leave.

I think this is a classic example of seeing the early stages of a strong trend.

If you double 1 you get 2. If you double 2 you get 4 and if you double 4 you get 8.
With a quick glance it might look like not much is happening, but as we all know if we go on for a few more steps we quickly reach big numbers.
16, 32, 64, 128, 256 and 1024.
In 10 steps we increase the number with a factor of 1000. In 20 steps we increase it by a factor of 1 million (!)

But when the increase is small in the beginning it’s hard to see what is going on.

I think it is very much the same with the attitudes and behaviours around men’s (and society’s) view on the fathers role in bringing up the children of a family.

Call me an optimistic optimist – and perhaps I am – but perhaps I am instead just good at spotting a trend …

In an article on Reuters (where the statistics above also are taken from) they write about the success of the TV show “Return of Superman” where male celebrities are taking care of their own children and about how reality shows like “Return of the Superman” changed Koreans view of what a father can, and should, do when it comes to rising the children.

Men want to be superheroes, and we are now living in a time where male celebrities in a conservative country like South Korea as described and perceived as super heroes – for taking care of their kids…

Who would have thought.

We are living in interesting times, and I think we very soon will look back on today as the time the world woke up from a collective hypnosis of thinking that children only needed one parent and ask ourselves “What where we thinking?”. And because we are in the early stage of this strong change I think that most people haven’t yet understood what is happening around us.

For the sake of our families, and our children, I hope I am right.



Fredrik Haren

A blog about the magic of fatherhood and paternity leave. Written by Fredrik Haren, professional speaker and author who is now on semi-paternity leave with his three children.

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