The Donga Ilbo reported the other day that a girl who went overseas for language study came home and not long after was often vomiting in the mornings. When she went to the hospital it turned out she came home from overseas with a little surprise for her parents – a pregnancy. The reason this case stands out is that she’s an 11 year-old fifth grader. At the camp last summer, due to ‘curiosity’ she had a relationship with a middle school boy.
The parents tried to get her an abortion, but they were refused. The chairman of the Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology said that abortions are only for worst cases, and though there is more of a risk for minors, the fact that she wasn’t raped and her life isn’t endangered makes her ineligible for an abortion; the very young age of the mother is not a good reason to allow an abortion.
Her mother will raise the girl’s baby as a family relation. The family moved away from their neighborhood to avoid prying eyes. The girl quit school and is staying home to prepare for the birth. Out of fear of possible rumors they have cut off contact with the boy’s family.
Every school vacation more than 200,000 people leave the country for short-term language courses. Students typically stay in ‘resorts,’ dorms or local home stays. For those living in dorms or resorts, 24 hour monitoring by teachers is possible, but it’s difficult at home stays. One official noted that based on the type of accommodation and having one teacher supervising 10-15 students, various incidents may be reduced.
As Korea Beat reports, this made the top ten most read naver articles of last week.
There are several things that could be brought up here. It's interesting, considering how common abortion is in Korea - despite it being illegal - that the girl would be turned down. Or, that anyone would be turned down. I'd tend to think that 11 years old is physically rather young to be having a child, and don't really see why it wouldn't be considered risky. I'd imagine she'd have a C-section. At any rate, another good reason to start sex education early. Or to start sex education, period. There's been hand-wringing going on over teaching it for 15 years, especially since a middle school girl gave birth in school after a secret pregnancy in 1996.
It's also interesting the lengths the family is going to to avoid people around them knowing that their daughter is pregnant. Needless to say, if the education system (and the 'must have an impossibly high TOEFL score to get a promotion' system of many companies) didn't encourage, as the article says, 200,000 people to leave the country every year, this wouldn't have happened.
(Hat tip to Benjamin Wagner)