Crimes within the family are on the rise. According to a study by Jung Sung-kook, a forensic scientist at the National Police Agency, there were 381 parricides between January 2006 and March 2013, accounting for five percent of total murders.
The number of crimes against family members — murder, assault, confinement and blackmail — doubled from 1,141 in 2013 to 2,235 in 2016.
One reason could be a growing number of dysfunctional families and unwanted pregnancies as well as an increase in the number of irresponsible people who marry and have children without preparing for the future.
Kwak Keum-joo at Seoul National University said, “The duties of family members remain unchanged, but the sense of responsibility is weakening and there are no laws that can force them to fulfill their filial duties. Novice parents often end up expressing their anger physically at their vulnerable children.”
Opportunities to learn responsible parenting or Confucian values are also decreasing. In the past, schools taught parenting, but such lessons are being phased out amid criticism that they are outdated.
“As society stresses the importance of individual happiness, little consideration is given to maintaining traditional family values,” said Shin Jong-ho at Seoul National University. “People end up viewing families as sources of pressure, which leads to feelings of resentment and violent outbursts.”
Experts also blame changing priorities. Jeon Sang-jin at Sogang University said, “The young generation are taught to put their grades and work first. This can weaken people’s concern for their family members, who can sometimes seem like mere obstacles to achieving their goals.”
Korea’s rapid economic development seems to have resulted in more fractured family relationships. “Countries like the U.K. that have industrialized and established welfare systems over a long period of time are better at making the government take the responsibilities of caring for the vulnerable or elderly. But in this country most of those responsibilities are still placed on family members.”
Also, children who have grown up coddled often cannot cope with the pressures of having to care for parents and children, especially when money is tight. This is why crimes in the family so often involve money.
Lee Soo-jung, at Kyonggi University, said, “With the guarantee of lifetime employment gone, we are seeking a rapid increase in crimes by children who feel hemmed in by having to support their parents.”