Sang Hyun On ‘Daddy’s War’

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!”.  One of the dads answered that there is no good father DNA from the start. His own 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.
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2 Responses to Sang Hyun On ‘Daddy’s War’

  1. Zsuzsanna says:

    In Hungary the “paternity leave” is familiar as since cca. 25 years ago daddies can stay at home with children. But it depends on the importance of work and salary. If the mother has more important work and her salary is higher, the best solution if the husband stays at home with child. But I have to tell that the older people don’t accept this solution as here the man is who has to earn the money and many times both salaries need to maintain a family.
    Children are in better situation here as fathers can spent more time with children and they try to find more time at weekends, even if their work is hard and have to overwork. It’s not a habit here to take little child to workplace, just when the children are a little bit older and the parent’s annual holiday ran out and there’s nobody for whom they can leave the children. But of course, grandmothers and grandfathers are great help! 😀 There are many playgrounds, playhouses and programs for children together for daddies or mothers. And who has special activities, like skiing, skating, sledding or in summer swimming, fathers can take children there. Or playing board games! At the moment there’s only baby-mother gyms only, but soon I think someone will find out the baby-father, too! 😀 And the best way to be together with dad when children and dad take the dog for a walk…For example, SH can walk with Princess with the 3 dogs together… Although, I think Manseok is not the same type as the other two smaller dogs. 😀
    Otherwise, at last I could watch it, although, only on korean language. As I cannot speak svedish, I could understand only a little bit, except when they talked english or german. I think SH enjoyed his staying in Sweden and got many interesting experiences! He was very happy to be among swedish children! 😀

    • juleecwk says:

      I guess for most it’s still men who are considered as bread winners but if the woman has a better income, it would make more sense for the husband to be the stay-home dad. Anyway paternity leave is one of the work benefits to encourage men to be more involved in co-parenting duties, hopefully the men themselves would also want to spend more time with their kids. Not sure if there are other countries as Sweden with such generous paternity leave of 3 mths. Previously we have only 2 days but now it’s been increased to 2 weeks so it’s improving. It’s important for the govt to take the lead in implementing such family centered policies, to be followed by the private sector.

      It would be ideal if the grandparents can help to look after the kids but times are changing and these days some grandparents might prefer not to or some families do not have such an arrangement. It would help if there are more affordable childcare facilities available especially at the workplace but it is not feasible for small companies to provide such facilities. If the fees are too expensive and the parent’s income is not a lot, it might not be affordable. Once again, it would greatly help if there are more subsidized public childcare facilities.

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