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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

The Caring Person

One of the Korean teachers I work with related a novel Korean concept. She has a son and he’s been sick for the past several days – too sick to go to the day care 어라니집. I asked who was taking care of her son. She’s never missed a day teaching, so I assumed her mother or mother-in-law was staying with the boy. Wrong on both counts. The “caring person” or 돌보미선생님 had been coming to her house.

Curious, I had to ask what a caring person was. For people who don’t make much money, the Korean government provides such people to come take care of someone. For a few thousand won per hour, this person can come to the house and take care of sick children or elderly and thus enable the breadwinner to continue to go to work and make money.

What a novel concept. Coming from America where there are few social programs that help in such a positive manner, I was pleasantly surprised. In America, one can get food stamps – coupons to buy food, or if you simply can’t work, welfare – free money. But there’s nothing to help the person who can and wants to work but has family issues that must be dealt with. Having already gone through raising children, I can attest to the brutal nature of trying to maintain a career and deal with sick children. My wife and I, both career people, were forced to alternate days off when the kids were sick. Even so, it was detrimental to office politics. I had even watched helplessly as others, usually mothers, were denied promotions or even forced from their jobs to deal with problems like this. Sink or swim. Deal with your children or deal with your career. Hard choices.

The hogwan I teach at is very small. If this teacher had been off work rather than have the caring person watch her boy, it would have put our schedule into a frenzy. I applaud the Koreans for such a socially forward program that enables people to remain productive and still know their family is well cared for. On the other side of the ocean, play the video out to the end: the mother can’t come to work because her child is ill, her company can’t afford an outage and hires another after which the mother has no job, thus requiring even more support in the form of food stamps or welfare. Just a simple example is the US Army’s deplorable treatment of single mothers. Hooray for Korea.