Eun Seo-Ran, 43, and her adopted daughter, who is 38, are among many women in South Korea who are reimagining family in an aging society with strict gender roles and a patriarchal family culture. While only those related by blood, marriage between a man and a woman, and adoption are recognized as family, women who choose to stay single are pushing the government to recognize a broader range of companionships as family, often driven by concern about who will care for them when they grow old or get sick. Some one million Koreans lived with friends or partners as of 2021 but cannot access benefits and services available to married couples and families, and have few rights If a companion dies. Lonely deaths are increasing, many among men in their 50s or 60s. But even as proposed legislation to widen the legal definition of family is stalled by conservative and evangelical claims that it would effectively allow same sex marriage, women are creating grassroots social and healthcare cooperatives themselves, and Seo-Ran's story has inspired many single women living with friends to consider adoptions.

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