A magazine helping to change the role of fathers in South Korea
This interview was first published in the Coverage newsletter in June 2018.
As a father, I really enjoy the fact that people are making magazines about this specific role in society. Do you remember Kindling Quarterly from a few years ago? How about the Polish Fathers, now on its 6th issue?
Bold Journal is a magazine from South Korea looking at this topic with a different cultural perspective, which makes it very interesting for a European dad like me.
I talked recently with Tae jung Kim, editor of Bold about recent shifts in Korean fatherhood, the magazine's role in society and its international goals.
Dan R: Can you explain the current father scene in South Korea? What is it like being a modern day father?
TJK: Like some other Asian countries, Korea is generally a Confucius patriarchal society. In exchange for providing for the family, Korean fathers had all the authority and were in charge of the household. That authority was handed down for generations and it became natural for men to be respected. However, in the recent 20-30 years, Korean society has been changing rapidly. As more and more women join the workforce, the traditional role of father and mother is being challenged.
The debate over women’s rights and equality has started to heat up. Korean men in their 30’s and 40’s are the ones that are most affected by this change. They grew up seeing their fathers being respected and receiving full autonomy from child-raising in return of providing for the family, but they now are faced with a society that says they are no longer leaders, but members. So it is natural for them to be struggling while looking for answers about how to balance life and work, and their roles as fathers.
Bold Journal defines ‘modern fathers’ as fathers who are breaking out of the traditional father role, and are trying to live a family-focused life. These fathers are more focused on the ‘happiness of their families’ than ‘being successful’. They are fathers who are not shaken by the standards of this performance-driven society, but fathers who are trying to balance work and life by living an independent life.
Bold Journal sets themes that resonate with these kinds of fathers, and by exploring various lifestyles, strive to be a guide for all fathers who want to live a balanced life.
DR: The magazine is bi-lingual. Are you hoping to reach an international audience with each issue?
TJK: Even before our first issue, we had global readers in mind. We thought that families from fast-growing Asian countries or Asian cultured families living in the western world would also have the same issues as we have in Korea and that it would ultimately lead to market growth. We are slowly being recognized globally. We were introduced in the Monocle Seoul guide and you can currently find Bold Journal in bookstores in Taiwan, England, and the USA, and more recently, Japan, Malaysia, and European countries have been reaching out to us.
Bold Journal sets a topic for each issue that modern fathers would be interested in, and it is exciting that global readers also are interested in these topics. All the attention makes it worthwhile making this magazine.
Dan R: What’s the magazine’s main goal with respect to fatherhood?
TJK: It’s hard to find a magazine that thinks deeply about the life of fathers, not only in Korea but globally. Most men’s magazines talk about fashion, politics or hobbies. Fathers have no place to stand. The goal of Bold Journal is to provide practical information that will benefit fathers who are trying to live a work/life balanced life. The meaning behind ‘bold’ from Bold Journal is ‘boldness’. We believe that breaking free from the socially ingrained idea of success, and choosing to live an alternate, unique life requires extreme boldness. Bold Journal aims to equip these bold fathers with quality information to enable them to have better experiences in life.