Filial piety is a big thing in South Korea, a country which has long valued Confucian ethics. Parents willingly spend the bulk of their time, energy and money raising and educating their kids; in return, they get looked after by their children after retirement.
At least, that was how parent-child interdependence was normally accepted and practiced here. In recent years, however, the bond is noticeably wearing thin as more Korean parents are suing their children for failing to offer proper care and support.
In most cases, the elderly South Korean parents blindly trusted their children with their life savings and took the drastic measure to court because they did not get due support from their children in return, according to a report by CBS.
“As society is facing an economic slowdown and senior poverty issues, lawsuits where parents lodge a complaint against their children are on the rise,” a legal expert told the radio station.
But parents are unlikely to get fully compensated in the legal battle with their children, largely due to a lack of evidence. Many wealth transfers among family members get done without proper documentation, and once such a transfer is completed, it is difficult to nullify the transaction under Korean civil law.
Korean parents also face the daunting challenge of proving that their children failed to honor their duty. To prove their children’s guilt, there should be formal contracts between parents and children, but it is rare for parents to write up such documents.
For instance, Daegu District Court recently rejected a suit filed by an 86-year-old woman demanding that her son return the land she gave him. She claimed the son treated her unfairly and did not fulfill her condition that he care for her in her old age.
“Parents come to the court because they can’t overcome the emotional rift, even though other family members try to mediate for them,” said an official in the legal circles.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org