Sang Hyun shares his thoughts on the SBS documentary ‘Daddy’s War’ and what he had experienced in Sweden. He was amazed by the stark contrast in childcare involvement between Korean fathers and Swedish ‘Latte Papas’. The latter are so called because they would often hang out in cafes with their babies or toddlers.
Reminiscing on his childhood, his dad was always busy and work was his priority. Now that he’s in his mid-40s, married and father of a child, the situation is still the same as in the past where the father’s presence is missing from their children’s life. He was envious of families living happily together as seen in foreign films and had wondered why it was not the same for him. Throughout his childhood, he had never seen a child playing with his dad in the playground. He made up his mind that if he gets married, he would be a father who is like a friend to his children.
He very much wanted to be this kind of dad but it was not easy to see his child when he returns home late due to a busy schedule or drama shooting. Sometimes he feels anxious that his daughter might find him unfamiliar if she does not see him for a long time. With his wife’s encouragement, he had decided to take part in the filming in Sweden and it had been an eye-opening experience. He was surprised by the many Swedish fathers who are with their kids 24 hours a day, who spend the mornings in cafes feeding their kids instead of going to the office and would bring their kids in strollers to the movie theaters. In one of the schools, he was at a loss for words to see drawings representing fathers which were filled entirely with ‘hearts’. While visiting an IT company in Stockholm, he was astonished at the sight of a father pushing 2 strollers. It was the first time he had seen a father bringing his kids to the office and moreover, the man was on paternity leave.
It is so different from the realities back home in Korea. When Sang Hyun asked the Swedish dads if it is really possible to have good father DNA, they firmly exclaimed “No!”. The reporter whom he met answered that there is no good father DNA from the start. The reporter’s dad was always busy working so parenting and housework was left to his mum. It was no different in Sweden 20 years ago but a change has occurred.
Unlike Korea where taking childcare leave is not easy, 90% of the fathers in Sweden utilize childcare leave in line with the number of children they have. It is natural for the fathers to be with their kids but it would not have been possible in Sweden without the government’s effort. In Korea the mothers would have to work if fathers take paternity leave, but in Sweden parents do not face economic hardship even if the mothers do not work while the fathers are on paternity leave. So it is a different situation in Korea where one has to make sacrifices for the other.
Sang Hyun was surprised that the Swedish government and companies are all family centered. Besides the men’s desire to be good ‘Latte Papas’ and the efforts they put in, it would not be possible without the corporate culture and government support. In conclusion he hopes that such an environment could be created in Korea with the support of the government and companies so that the children’s thoughts of their father would be reminiscent of their hearts.