The 4B movement: envisioning a feminist future with/in a non-reproductive future in Korea

Jieun Lee, Euisol Jeong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, in Korea, young feminists launched the 4B (4非) movement: bihon, bichulsan, biyeonae, bisekseu, meaning the refusal of (heterosexual) marriage, childbirth, romance, and sexual relationships. The 4B movement encompasses not only criticisms of the pro-natalist turn in state policy and protests against it, but also various forms of self-help discussions and practices that are explicitly oriented towards women’s individual futures. In this article, we explore how the 4B movement has given young feminists the opportunity to envision the future that they had been discouraged from imagining. Presenting a lived critique of contemporary Korea, these feminists ask how young women are led to imagine their current, single life as a temporary state, as consumer capitalism and the patriarchal state together place these young non-married women in an economically vulnerable position. They see this as achieved by endorsing ‘feminine’ desires and a presentist lifestyle, as well as excluding non-married women from opportunities in the job market and state-sponsored benefits in welfare services. We argue that the 4B movement and its discourses on the future and self-help could offer these women one possible way to envision a feminist future as individuals without being part of the state’s reproductive future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-644
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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