Veteran actress Choi Jin Shil (40) (most recently of the romantic comedy/family drama The Last Scandal of My Life) — whom I love and have thought was adorable since I first saw her act in Jealousy in 1992 — has been granted the right to legally change her two children’s surnames from that of her ex-husband to her own. While this isn’t necessarily a rare occurrence, it’s a formerly impossible but now growing practice in a society that until very recently was strict in its application of Family Registry Law (the patriarchal system requiring children to be registered under the father’s name). (Women keep their names upon marriage in Korea, which I used to think was oddly forward-thinking, but which I’m now inclined to believe has more to do with keeping a woman as an outsider when she marries into her husband’s family.)
Following Choi Jin Shil’s 2004 divorce from baseball player Jo Sung Min, her 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter will take her surname Choi. The court granted permission saying they based the decision on the fact that she’s been the childrearing parent for the past four years.
Choi explained she doesn’t intend to remarry, but as her ex-husband has remarried and she wants to live her own life, she wanted to her children to proudly bear her family name. (Apparently the kids didn’t see the occasion as a big deal; when she told them of the name change issue, they were expecting it as an obvious outcome.)
According to the article, 80% of applicants in cases like this involve divorced women who want to remarry, whose children will take on the last name of their stepfather. Those who intend to raise their children as single mothers make up the other 20%. A source with the court explained that in cases like Choi’s, the name change isn’t made to sever ties with the children’s biological fathers, but in affirmation of the care their mother has provided and an assurance of that relationship. (In ye olden days, the rigidity of Confucian-based values favored men and gave many women the shaft in regards to family relationships, their children and custody. Recent law changes are expanding women’s rights and giving them more freedom, although the changes are still new and the shifts bound to be gradual.)
SONG OF THE DAY
Peppertones – “Diamonds” [ Download ]
RELATED POSTSChoi Jin-shil