News

South Korean 'Goose Dads' Feel Pinch of Crisis-Driven Currency Swing

Multimedia

Audio

South Korea's currency, the won, fell to its lowest exchange value in 10 years against the dollar, this week.  Panicked investors are taking shelter in the dollar, amid global financial uncertainties, driving its value up.  Some of the immediate victims of the currency swing are a bunch of lonely South Korean men known as "Goose Dads."  VOA Seoul Correspondent Kurt Achin explains.

Kim Heung-kuk is reasonably well-known in South Korea.  He is a member of that hard-working, mid-level group of celebrities that make a decent income, but are not considered super-rich.  He had a hit song a long time ago, appears in the occasional commercial and does a radio talk show in Seoul.

Kim belongs to a second group as well:  he is one of South Korea's "kiroggi aboji", or "goose fathers."

Kim's wife lives in Hawaii with the family's two children, who both attend school.  Their tuition, food, housing and other expenses has to be paid in American dollars.

The term "goose father" derives from the Korean view of the goose as a traditional symbol of family loyalty.  Like many other Korean men with family members in the United States, Kim stays behind in South Korea, working hard - and getting paid in Korean won.

About a year ago, it took a little more than 900 won to buy one dollar.  This week, it takes about 1,400 won.  That means Kim has to earn about 50 percent more, just to meet the same expenses.

In the past, he says, the dollar was not so expensive.  Now, he says, the dollar has shot up and it is getting very hard for him and the other goose fathers to bear.

Kim has taken on more broadcasting work to increase his income.  And he acknowledges, the financial crisis has led to some changes of habit.

He says he keeps watching the news every day, hoping the situation gets better.  His family travels and eats out less than they used to.  He says he also drinks less.

There are no exact figures on how many "goose fathers" there are in South Korea, but estimates are in the high tens of thousands.  Up to now, most "goose dads" have seen the sacrifice as worth it, because their children become fluent in English and get a education in problem-solving skills rather than Asian-style rote memorization.

He says other "goose fathers" are thinking of bringing their children back for a year or so.  However, because one of his children is close to graduation, he says he and his wife will try to endure.

In the meantime, Kim plans to keep showing up for work, heading home alone and hoping the dollar comes back down to earth.



 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs