August 09, 2006
By Park Chung-a
Since the news broke on Monday that popular TV anchorwoman Noh Hyun-jong would marry the grandson of the founder of Hyundai Group, debate has raged over the relationship between female journalists and chaebol owners as well as the meaning of marriage to career woman.
The Hyundai Group is one of the largest conglomerates in South Korea. Chaebol refers to the several dozen large, family-controlled Korean corporate groups, which have played a major role in the South Korean economy since the 1960s.
Noh’s marriage is just one of the many examples between female TV anchors and chaebol owners. To name a few: Jang Eun-young from KBS married the former chairman of Dong-A Group in 1999 despite 27 years difference in age; SBS’ Han Song-joo married the third son of chairman of the Aekyung Group in 1999, although they divorced later; KBS’ Choi Won-jong married son of chairman of Hyundai Elevator in 2004 and MBC’s Choi Yun-young married the son of former chairman of Daewoo in the same year.
A KBS official who claimed anonymity said the two people first met in mid-June on a blind date thanks to another TV anchorwoman who introduced them to each other. And within less than the two months they decided to tie the knot as Chung Dae-sun, Noh’s future husband, has to go back to the United States in September to continue his economic studies at the University of Massachusetts. Chung is currently in Korea for his summer vacation, which started in June.
According to KBS anchor department, after the marriage on August 27, Noh will follow Chung to the U.S, either quitting or seeking temporary leave from her job.
Noh’s sudden announcement on marriage with a chaebol owner and leaving to the U.S. comes as a surprise to many people as the 27-year-old has been enjoying a heyday as an anchorwoman with skyrocketing popularity since she started her career in 2003. Noh is currently in charge of four main programs of KBS, including morning news program and three other entertainment programs _ "Star Golden Bell," "Imagination Plus" and "TV Brings Love."
"Marriage is totally an individual choice and Noh’s decision should be respected in any case. However, what I am concerned about is that Noh’s marriage to a chaebol owner will only strengthen the stereotype of anchorwoman and career women," said Lim Yi-suk of the sociology graduate school of Yonsei University.
"The more influential female figures marry chaebol owners and quit their jobs, the less credibility professional career women will have. It could give an impression that no matter how intelligent and talented woman is, their ultimate goal is marrying a rich man."
Others rejected such criticism, saying that marrying a chaebol owner is the best way to survive in this capitalist society.
"Chung is handsome, rich and seems to be intelligent too. Who would not marry such guy? Women vent anger and frustration toward Noh’s marriage because they are actually really envious of Noh," said Lee Hyun-joo, a female office worker.
Breaking away from the traditional concept of a TV anchorwoman who only focuses on reading news material with rigid facial expressions, Noh has succeeded in appealing to broader range of viewers with her friendly image by playing the roles of hosts in entertainment programs.