The best Chuseok gift for women?

September 18, 2015

With Chuseok approaching, fake arm casts are once again brisk sellers.

It’s that time of the year. With Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving, right around the corner, fake arm casts are once again brisk sellers for those housewives seeking to avoid heavy duty holiday chores. 

Online vendors originally began selling fake casts around 10 years ago for April Fools’ Day and as props for stage performances, but the wives (and those husbands who know better) quickly caught on. Now information about how to use the fake casts and how to make them look real are even shared on online communities and social network services.

The fad has many reasons behind it in Korea where women do most of the work preparing meals on traditional holidays while men usually chat, drink alcohol or watch television. Due to the unequal gender roles, many women suffer enormous stress and physical fatigue called “daughter-in-law holiday syndrome” before, during and after traditional holidays.

During traditional holiday seasons, there is a threefold increase in sales compared to non-holiday seasons, according to online shopping malls. Some online sites even says they’ve recently sold out.

“I don’t want to use this ruse,” wrote one blogger. “But I fully understand why some women use the fake casts. I hate this terrible holiday culture that exploits women, with men taking it for granted that women will do all the household chores.”

Some say they cannot use the fake casts because their mother-in-laws already know about them.

“My mother-in-law recently called me to ask suspiciously whether I had an arm injury, as if she was warning me not to use it because she already knows about the casts,” a housewife in her 30s said. “She jokingly asked  if I needed it. So I dropped the plan.”

Another woman said that avoiding household chores is not a solution because it will only lead to having a guilty conscience.

“I had a real arm injury last year so I wore the real cast on Chuseok. So my mother-in-law and other relatives worked instead of me. I didn’t work but it was an uncomfortable feeling. The problem is not just physical work but mental stress that makes me feel guilty when I don’t work. It’s sad,” she said.