The Korean Chuseok holiday, while called a holiday, is sometimes viewed as a chore. Some Koreans use the opportunity to skip town and take a long vacation — a true holiday — while others take off work and end up doing other work, sometimes taking extreme measures to avoid said work. Some things that immediately come to mind are preparing food all day, or the long, arduous drives down to the countryside to visit family.
In a survey conducted by the Gyeonggi-do Women’s Development Center earlier this year in January, 1,482 members were asked to name what about the holiday stresses them the most, and not surprising at all was the utter disparity of the answers from the women the men.
Taking the cake with 48.9 percent of the votes from married women was “Preparing food all day while my husband sits and watches television.” Next was “When my [in-laws] won’t send me home to my family or send me home late,” with 18.9 percent of the votes. With 13.6 percent and 12.5 percent of the votes, respectively, was “Being nagged about not supporting my husband enough,” and “When my husband sleeps all day when we’re with my family.”
Men on the other hand, have other things on their minds, according to the survey. “Financial pressure resulting from huge expenditure during Chuseok” is on top of the list with 49.7 percent of the votes from married men. “Long-distance driving” and “My wife’s complaining” followed with 20.3 percent and 16.9 percent.
About 30 percent of both men and women said that the Chuseok holiday actually results in conflict, either with their spouse or between mother- and daughter-in-law.
Possibly in part due to these types of widespread complaints, the Chuseok holiday is changing a lot. When the survey participants were asked what about Chuseok has changed the most, 48.4 percent said the number of family members that gather has decreased, and not as many relatives visit.
Other changes include less food preparation, smaller ancestral rites or omission of the ceremony altogether, men helping with food preparation, etc.