Voice Out Your Voice!
Leading upright feminist of Women’s Life School, Lee Jae-eun
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In the beauty of women’s pregnancy and infant care, there’s the sorrow of mother’s impossibility to return to their career. In South Korea, the issue of career break has been a hot potato, which commonly refers to a period out of employment for women to raise their children. Despite the fact that South Korea’s gender inequality is slowly, but constantly being assuaged, there are still barriers to overcome. Lee Jae-eun (German Language and Literature, '02 and Ph.D. in Educational Technology) is a leader of Women’s Life School who suggests the novel ways to view and resolve the problems women face in Korea.
As a mother, CEO, writer, wife, and a woman
Lee’s college years were full of joy and love with her friends and a lover. However, after her graduation, she had to face parting words from many relationships. “I realized that the main reason why I was hurt so much by the break ups is my tendency to rely on others, just because I was a woman. So, I decided to amend this problem,” reminisced Lee. The first door she knocked on after graduation was a feminist magazine company. As her major had no connection with feminism, she had to appeal her passion to be employed. “I began with becoming a fan of the magazine by commenting on every article posted with the nickname of Ho-Ho Girl,” laughed out Lee.
After a few years of working as an official reporter, Lee decided to become a writer to connect scholar feminism to cultural feminism. Then, her first book Women’s Life Dictionary, which is divided into seven chapters to guide healthy mind and lifestyle for women, become one of the bestsellers in South Korea. Its profit was used to found her company- Women's Life School (Click). “I began to have interest in counseling women from university students to married women to have courage. This eventually led me to major in educational technology for my Ph.D. degrees,” said Lee.
Now, Lee is a mother of one daughter, wife, and even a professor at a Korean university. “Having many roles is arduous, I realized that distribution of time to each role isn’t that much important. Understanding the core philosophy of each role while not losing my own philosophy is the most imperative factor,” said Lee. Lee can be benevolent as a mother and a wife, acute as a CEO, and considerate as a professor. However, she still does not forget that the most important entity to her is herself.
Not a career break off, but a career changeover
In Korea, there are two words that describe the occupation of mothers- working mom and a housewife. This means, when a working mom gets pregnant and has to quit work either by maternity leaves or resignation for longer infant care, the working mom becomes a housewife. However, Lee points out the flaw of this dichotomous view of portraying mothers. “Working moms and housewives aren’t two different occupations, but coexisting ones. Whenever working mom wants to become a housewife for kids or the housewife wishes to work again as their kids grows older, the career changeover in this aspect should be cyclical,” emphasized Lee.
When Lee first set up Women’s Life School, the social reaction wasn’t exactly supporting her. The concept of a life school has not been popularized and feminism was a difficult subject. However, Lee did not gave up on the hope that feminism could become a popular idea and women with low self-respect in the society could gain their courage.
“Even in the research, women have lower self-regard than men in Korea. Also, when we do the survey, numbers of young women pick strong, strict female leaders as their role model. But, we all should understand that feminine style can also be strong,” emphasized Lee. Women’s soft and delicate way of talking and caring could also impact the world, and Lee’s ultimate purpose is to bring out this quality to the world.
Based on her four years of memories at Hanyang University, Lee advised the female youth at the campus. “Many female students often give up on their friendship for their love and GPA. But learning how to balance friendship, economic ability, and love can be the true success of your life!”
Kim Ju-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Choi Min-ju
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