Gireogi appa

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Flock of geese during autumn migration

A gireogi appa (Korean기러기 아빠; lit. goose dad) is a South Korean term that refers to a man who works in Korea while his wife and children stay in an English-speaking country such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand for the sake of their children's education.[1]

Many Korean people desire to speak English well. This desire is sometimes referred to as "English Fever".[2] English proficiency is very important not only for students but also for office workers because they believe that English skills determine their social position and promotion in the company. However, it is not easy for Koreans to learn and speak English fluently due to the difference in sentence structure between Korean and English. To overcome this difficulty, some parents choose to raise their young children in one of the English-speaking countries, and in the process, mothers and children live together in a foreign country, and fathers remain in Korea and live alone.[3]

The term is inspired by the fact that geese are a species that migrate, just as the gireogi appa father must travel a great distance to see his family.[4] Estimates of the number of gireogi appa in South Korea range as high as 200,000 men.[5] The word gireogi appa was included in the report '2002 New Word' by the National Academy of Korean Language.[6]

Social problem[edit]

To provide a better educational environment for children, mothers usually decide to live in a foreign country with their children, and fathers are left alone in South Korea. It is difficult for these goose dads to communicate regularly with their families who live far away. Although the Internet and phones enable them to interact with their families indirectly, it is not easy to have good family communication. In addition, due to a sudden change in the form of the family, fathers who live alone suffer from extremely intense loneliness and desolation. This feeling of loneliness causes some fathers to have a sexual relationship with someone other than their wife, commit suicide, or put them at risk of dying alone.[7]

Related terms[edit]

If the gireogi appa has the finances to pay for frequent visits to see his family, he is called an "eagle dad" (독수리 아빠) but if finances constrict his ability to travel abroad, he is known as a "penguin dad" (펭귄 아빠)[8] because he cannot fly and may go without seeing his family for years at a time.[9] If the man cannot afford to send his children abroad, he rents a small studio for his wife and children in Gangnam, an area dense with hagwon. That father is called a "sparrow dad" (참새 아빠). And if the man sends his children to elementary school in Daechi, he hires lodgings and is called a "Daejeon-dong dad" (대전동 아빠).[10]

More than 40,000 South Korean schoolchildren are believed to be living in the United States, Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia expressly to increase English-speaking ability. As of 2009, over 100,000 Korean students were studying abroad.[11] In at least some of the cases, a South Korean mother will choose to live abroad with her children with the additional reason of avoiding her mother-in-law, with whom a historically stressful relationship may exist due to Korean Confucianism.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lee, Kapson (Oct 26, 2004). "Korean 'Goose Families' Migrate for Education". New America Media. Archived from the original on 2009-07-05.
  2. ^ Park, Jin-Kyu (2009). "'English fever' in South Korea: its history and symptoms". English Today. 25 (1): 50–57. doi:10.1017/S026607840900008X. ISSN 0266-0784.
  3. ^ Park, Jin-Kyu (2009). "'English fever' in South Korea: its history and symptoms". English Today. 25 (1): 50–57. doi:10.1017/S026607840900008X. ISSN 0266-0784.
  4. ^ "The plight of Korean 'goose families'". Asian Pacific Post. November 3, 2004. Archived from the original on 2008-07-04.
  5. ^ Kim, Eun-gyong. "History of English Education in Korea". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20.
  6. ^ 국립국어원. "2002년 신어 보고서".
  7. ^ Psathas, George (2012). Interaction and Everyday Life: Phenomenological and Ethnomethodological Essays in Honor of George Psathas. Washington, D.C.: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 171–172. ISBN 978-0-7391-7644-3.
  8. ^ "Bad year for duck daddies". The Hankyoreh. Jan 28, 2008. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved June 17, 2008.
  9. ^ "South Korean 'Goose Dads' Face Sacrifice, Loneliness for Children's Sake". Chosun Ilbo. Sep 28, 2006. Archived from the original on 2009-07-07.
  10. ^ "Cafe mom, Daejeondong dad...neologism for school parent's distress (카페맘ㆍ대전동아빠…학부모고충 담은 신조어 백태)". Yonhap News Agency. 2012-12-04. Archived from the original on 2021-02-09. Retrieved 2013-10-13.
  11. ^ Goh-Grapes, Agnes (2009-02-22). "Phenomenon of Wild Goose Fathers in South Korea". Korea Times. Archived from the original on 2009-12-01. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
  12. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (June 8, 2008). "For English Studies, Koreans Say Goodbye to Dad". New York Times.

External links[edit]