South Korea’s Local Context on Infertility Problem

Authors: Jean Young Kim*, University of Texas - Austin
Topics: Gender, Women, Asia
Keywords: Gender and nation, Reproduction, Infertility, South Korea, Assisted Reproductive Technology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Muses, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The local contexts regarding infertility vary around the world. Depending on local situations, which include religion, women’s social status, fertility rate and medical service, subjective meanings and experiences of infertility can be different. Moreover, the approaches to the fertility/infertility problem is intimately related to nationalist projects. Therefore, it is crucial to understand infertility from a local perspective. Much research has been done on infertility in various regions, but less has been done on infertility in East Asian contexts. In this paper, I examine how the issue of infertility has been depicted in the South Korean society. As the marriage and fertility rates drop rapidly, South Korea confronts the crisis of population decline where infertility becomes a social issue. I examine different perspectives toward the infertility by studying government policy papers, infertility clinics’ flyers and newsletters, patients’ personal blogs and online forums. I consider the government, medical community and patients as the main agents who have different interests toward infertility problem.The Korean government approaches infertility through a countermeasure to solve the low fertility rate. Many fertility centers emphasize their superior medical techniques, which can lead to patients’ happiness. Patients, who are mostly women, express hardships anonymously through online forums and personal blogs. All three agents commonly regard infertility as something to be overcome with the help of advanced assisted reproductive technologies.

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