9:50 in the morning of May 27, in room 601, the Department of Bill Registration of the National Assembly. It was something she did on a regular basis, but this time, New Millennium Democratic Party (NMDP) member Lee Mi-kyung's hand shook a little as she handed in the revision bill. Fellow legislator Kim Hee-sun also expelled a long-held gush of breath as she held the bill together with Lee. As for representative Lee Oh Kyung-sook of KWAU and director Kwak Bae-hee of the Family Law Office who were standing next to the two legislators, their brows pulled together ever so slightly. The day the bill for the revision of the Civil Code to abolish the hoju system was submitted to the National Assembly, women of Korea shouted thus: History is in the Making!
Lee and other women who had been pushing for the bill held a press conference in the VIP restaurant right before the submission of the bill, where they did not hide their elation, calling the day 'a truly historical day." Lee declared, "With the submission of the bill, we have taken the first step towards a family system that will realize individual human dignity and gender equality. We're grateful to all the women and women leaders whose efforts have made this day possible."
A deeply-moved Kim Hee-sun said, "Unlike hearsay, the hoju system is not a Korean tradition but the remnants of Japanese colonial rule. Let's all remember this day as a historical day when we put an end to the evil practice of the head of a family wielding absolute control over all family affairs."
Director Kwak Bae-hee spoke for all the women groups when she said, "With the submission of the bill today, the labor of the hoju abolishment campaign has finally born fruit. I hope this will pave the way for the creation of a new family system."
The group, led by Lee, concluded the short press conference and headed straight for the Department of Bill Registration on the sixth floor. They were closely trailed by the press, aides and women activists eager to witness and record the historical moment. As soon as the group entered the room, the National Assembly employees gave them a warm welcome and promptly accepted the bill.
The moment the bill passed hands, all those looking on began to clap in unison. The applause lasted for minutes on end. And then someone shouted, "Good work, everyone!" The self-comforting applause resounded throughout the National Assembly building for a long while.