Friday, February 09, 2007

Head of the Family

My wife has been called for a medical by the Korean Health Service. She wasn't expecting it so she phoned to ask why, and also why she'd had an appointment card but not me.

It seems that normally on registering with the Health Service the 'head of the household' is given a medical. Perhaps it harks back to a time when they wanted to make sure the main breadwinner would remain so, but in itself it seems rather anachronistic today. But there was more. They went on to explain that normally the head of the household would be the man, but because I was a foreigner my wife was classed by the government as the head. Therefore she's the one they want to make sure is healthy. My wife laughed at the absurdity of it and the Health Service worker on the other end of the phone laughed as well, somewhat embarrassed.

So, while I never really thought of myself as the head of the household, when we were living in the UK and certainly not while we have been living here, it did make me feel like a bit of a second class citizen in my own house. Of course, the whole principle of this kind of selective healthcare is wrong anyway and I'm rather surprised it goes on because whatever traditional attitudes may prevail one might expect the Korean government to be trying to set an example in the field of sex equality. Then again, maybe not...


Jon Allen said...

I had a trailing spouse visa too ( until last week when we decided to leave Korea )
The funny thing was at Immigration if my wife hadn't said 'What about my husband' ( I was keeping out of the way) they would have forgotten about me and only taken the wife's ARC away.

Great blog by the way.

Mike said...

Thanks Jon. Sorry to hear you've decided to leave - actually I read your blog regularly. Apart from us both being ex-IT and British, as you've written before, there aren't too many non-ESL teachers blogging, so it's always interesting to read about life here outside of teaching. Good luck.

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