Korean Parenting Style: The Korean goose father 기러기 아빠

canada goose family

Sometimes I feel so amazed and most of the times puzzled for the things I hear and see in KOREA. When I was working in the Korean Company I had the interesting experience of meeting a “Kirogi appa”,which in Korean is written like (기러기 아빠) and in English means goose father, and I always wanted to share my thoughts about it. 

So what does it mean Kirogi appa? Generally this expression refers to the Korean man who works in Korea while the rest of the family, children and mother included, live in an English-speaking country only with the purpose to provide a better education or foreign education to his children.  This concept was inspired by the geese which are species that migrate and  male geese travels a very long distances to see his family.

When I got to know about it, I felt really touched because Korean men must really do an enormous sacrifice for their children’s education, don’t you think?


But this is not all, because even among this chosen life style there are several kinds of Korean fathers. Let’s see what they are:

  • If the Korean father has enough finances to pay ticket flights and rounds trips to see his family wherever whenever, then this Korean father is called Eagle Eagle Dad (독수리 아빠).
  • If the Korean father doesn’t have enough finances to travel frequently abroad and/or he isn’t able to see his family for a long time, even years! he’s called Penguin Dad (펭귄 아빠).
  • Since this is a life-style and not every Korean can afford sending their kids and wife abroad, there is another kind of Korean father called Sparrow Dad (참새 아빠). This Korean father rents a small studio/room in Gangnam (one of the most expensive living areas in Korea where the rooms are really small) and make children and wife to live there. He can live with them in a tinny room or he can live somewhere else.
  • Nowadays, this trend has spread into the earlier stages of education, so if the Korean Father wants to send their younger children to the Mecca of Education in Daechi Area (astronomic amount of money to pay for this tuition) he would become a Daejeondong dad (대전동아빠). In this case, these children can at least have the change be part of the rich society, but unfortunately will never become one of them. Those families usually lives in lodges or a small rooms near the schools.

It’s known that the most wanted countries for Korean parents are USA, Canada, England, New Zealand and Australia. Actually, it sounds great when I heard that somebody sent their kids to English-native country for their education, so I can’t help but wonder a bunch of other stuff such as:

1. Is it a broken family already. A happy family would do that? From my understanding family is a full concept of father, mother and kids. The children once they are 18 are free to go wherever they want but before that, the family must be together so if one leaves, all leave and nobody is left behind.

2. What would happen if the mother fall in love with other man while being abroad? The Korean father is in Korea working hard, saving money, eating korean noddles, drinking every night because of the missing family, barely clean up himself, etc… no money (I have seen this myself), and then the wife is happily leaving in other country at the expenses of the husband, no working,  taking care of the children who might be around 12 years old, meeting other mothers in the same situation and so on. Then she fall in love with a foreign men and never want to go back. The result is a broken family again!!

  1. What if the mother has convinced the Korean father to become Kirogi Appa so she can scape from the small-minded korean conservative society? Is she buying at the expenses of her husband the freedom that she never had?

  2. What if she doesn’t have enough resources to divorce? Many women do not have career because they devoted her entire life to her husband, kids and husband family in law… or maybe they don’t want to work (there is women like this!) so what they can do?

  3. Will the children pay off the effort of the parents in the future? It doesn’t mean that the children has to give all the money back or stay with their parents all his life. Just with thankful heart would be enough for parents, isn’t it?

6. In case that the father and the kids didn’t see for long time, the children will acknowledge father’s authority?

Those are my own thoughts about how this kind of fatherhood it seems to be. The only thing that my husband and I we know is that when we have kids, we don’t want to separate from each other because our concept of family it goes beyond education.

OF COURSE, not all is negative. I am sure there is more advantages than disadvantages. Just I think that childhood is just the begging of a long life, so there isn’t need to burn out that quickly.

Do you know someone or you work with someone who is kirogi Appa or similar? 

Please feel free to ask or give your own impressions.

miss you dady


XOXO Laura

Source of the types of kirogi Appa are from Wikipedia.

4 thoughts on “Korean Parenting Style: The Korean goose father 기러기 아빠

Add yours

  1. ummm !! am sure there is more disadvantages than advantages … sorry. I will never live apart from my husband just to have my kids live abroad and get better education … come on .. i just think same as u I think that childhood is just the begging of a long life, so there isn’t need to burn out that quickly. So stick to you husband and family


  2. It’s not as uncommon as you may think. It is practiced to varying degrees in various countries in East and South East Asia. Asians place a very high premium on education and the majority of the countries in this region do not yet boast of developed nation status or very high per capita incomes. Good education is basic foundation allowing the next generation to lead better lives as compared to their parents. Sadly, there’s always prejudice against the level of education offered locally (which could very well be true or just unsupported bias that everything foreign is better) so this results in kids being sent far away for education (and because they are doing it at a young age, moms will tag along) and living separate lives from their dads.
    It is supremely tough. My situation is not different where my daughter and wife are in a one country and I’m working in another to support them but I’m more fortunate in that budget airlines have allowed me to spend weekends with them regularly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Oliver, thank you very much for your comment and sharing your own experience. This is what we all should value the most. Good luck and wish you the best. Laura


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