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The Stigma Of Single Motherhood Explored in 'The Greatest Marriage'

BY Julie Jones | Oct 07, 2014 12:22 PM EDT

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In "The Greatest Marriage" No Min Woo and Park Si Yeon might have gotten married after they discovered she was pregnant. But his parents are monsters and find her an inferior marriage candidate. And her parents were not happily married. It's not a scenario that Park Si Yeon's character wants to repeat. So she decides she wants a baby but she does not want a husband. She breaks up with No Min Woo and decides to keep the baby. Becoming a single mom is never an easy decision to make but in Korea it can stall a promising career or sever family relations.

In a country that places high value on the traditional family unit, single mothers and their children may face discrimination. Families may refuse to acknowledge the child of their single child. Single mothers may find it difficult to work. Such children may be treated poorly, up to the point where other children don't want to play with them.

The birth rate for single moms in Korea is much lower than in other countries, but Park Si Yeon's character may represent a small trend. According to Statistics Korea, the number of thirty-something women opting to have children alone is growing.

Still, it's a brave decision that Park Si Yeon's character makes to both keep the baby and confidently declare that she is about to be a single mother. She's the anchorwoman of a major television station, so she's not just any mom who needs to work. Her bosses would like to fire her because her decision to be a single mom can damage the image of their station. Her family will not be happy and her mom may disown her. And it's a brave decision on the part of CSTV, the company producing the drama.

In a May 2014 article about single mothers that ran on the SBS site, mothers talked about how single moms may be pressured into giving their babies up for adoption. One mother talked about the need for better role models. She hoped that pop culture might play a role in creating a better attitude by portraying single mothers in a better light.

 "The Greatest Marriage" does that but it is not the first drama to highlight single motherhood. "I Do I Do" also showed a successful career woman, played by Kim Sun Ah, who decides to forego marriage and have her child alone. By making that choice she puts her job in jeopardy but ultimately succeeds.

Such competent and confident single moms may change the way Korea views single mothers.

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