One of the main benefits of moving back to Korea is reconnecting with friends here in Korea. Half of my friends here are artists I met through school. In the span of six years I haven’t seen them, some have gotten married, some have become moms, and some have remained single. I could see how these life choices shape your artist’s career, especially if you are a woman.
Starting with myself, I was not able to produce any finished work for the past two full years. My last piece was an installation at Augsburg College in the summer of 2012. In the winter of the same year, I packed all my art materials in boxes and into a container storage and parted with them. Now I am Pacific Ocean away from them.
I miss checking in my studio everyday.
I think I am a better person when I am making art on daily basis. TH would do anything to help me get back to art (when he was still a law student back in the States, he took off one semester to be a full time dad so I can continue my art,) but there aren’t much he can’t do right now while working six days a week, like most of other husbands working in Korea.
Through conversation with other artist moms who are in a similar situation as I am, I found some comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this battle. We share a common experience of postpartum depression. I have heard before that something like 1% of women actually gets a postpartum depression, but why does 100% of Korean woman artists have it?
Parenting is sill a “single mother’s” job in Korea. Not that the dads do not have a desire to be a parent, but their work schedule makes it very difficult for them to a be a dad from Monday to Saturday. What makes it hard for everyone is that PEOPLE* THINK IT IS NORMAL, ABSOLUTELY NORMAL FOR A WOMAN TO GIVE UP HER CAREER TO STAY AT HOME WITH A NEWBORN WHILE THEY DON’T THINK SO WITH A MAN. I am not going to deny all the joy and self-fulfillment that I received through parenting in the past five-very-long years, but I WISH I HAD A CHOICE.
I started to think that a lot of postpartum depression cases could be addressed only through changing the structure of the society. I wish a first time mom does not have to be forced into a home devoid of any real conversation with a partner about real choices.
Well, I am gonna keep fighting. Anyone want to join me?
*What I mean by people is not its first definition, “all human beings,” but “a selective group linked by a common interest.” Of course it excludes me. In this case, this group includes most Korean males and both males and female in our parents’ generation.