Married Korean couples are developing stronger ties than in the past to the parents of the wife, not least because of a growing dependence on their help with childcare.
Statistics Korea in a report last week said 3.4 percent of married couples now live with the parents of the wife, up from 2.5 percent a decade ago, while the proportion who live with the husband's parents has shrunk from 12.6 percent to 10. 5 percent.
Another 24 percent live within a 15 minute walk from the home of the husband's parents but 12.5 percent live near the wife's parents.
Traditionally, Korean women have been absorbed into their husband's family, stereotypically enduring terrible struggles with their mother-in-law.
But things are changing. The proportion of couples who keep in touch with the parents of the husband at least once a week fell from 79.4 percent to 71.5 percent over the last decade, while the proportion who stay in contact with the wife's parents rose from 72.9 percent to 73.4 percent.
And married couples increasingly turn to the wife's parents for help with raising their children. Some 15.6 percent relied on the parents of the wife for childcare assistance but only 7.1 percent on the husband's.
Financial dependence on the wife's parents also increased from 17.6 percent to 24.9 percent over the decade, while dependence on the husband's shrank a little from 31.2 percent to 30.6 percent.
The trend is more pronounced among double-income couples. The proportion getting help in the household from the husband's parents almost halved from 14 percent to 7.9 percent but rose from 17 to 19 percent when it came to the wife's parents.
"Couples tend to give more help to the parents of husbands but receive more from the parents of wives," said Han Gyoung-hae at Seoul National University.