A 20-year-old Vietnamese bride was killed by her Korean husband last week eight days after she arrived in Korea. The 47-year-old man had met her through an international marriage broker in Vietnam in February and tied the knot 10 days after. She arrived in Korea July 1 and was dead at the hands of her husband seven days later.
Since 2002, the man had been hospitalized or treated for depression and mental illness 57 times. Shortly before going to Vietnam, he was hospitalized for five days. Whether the matchmaker had prior knowledge of the mans condition is crucial. If the broker knew of the mans mental problem but went ahead with the process anyway, this is inexcusable. With the number of small international marriage brokers mushrooming, many of them are incapable of getting sufficient information on Korean men who want foreign brides. Even if they get such data, such brokers can choose to gloss over unfavorable traits that suitors might have such as mental illness. This will cause more domestic conflict and divorces among multicultural couples.
Korean men living in rural areas find it nearly impossible to get married unless they search for brides from Southeast or Central Asia. Last year saw 43,000 international marriages in Korea, accounting for 13 percent of all marital unions in the country. Despite the rapid rise in international marriages in rural areas and poorer neighborhoods in inner cities, Korea is not ready to embrace multicultural families as evidenced by the numerous problems involving foreign wives.
Foreign women who come to Korea through marriage do so in search of a better life. Many of them, however, end up divorced or even dead in the worst-case scenario because of abuse from their husbands and in-laws. In 2007, a teenage Vietnamese bride was killed after being beaten by her 40-something Korean husband. His beating was so vicious, he broke 18 of her ribs. In the same year, another Vietnamese bride was killed after falling from an apartment building. She had tried to escape by jumping off her apartments veranda after being held as a virtual prisoner by her Korean husband. These incidents led the Vietnamese president to urge Koreans to take better care of Vietnamese brides through the Korean ambassador to Hanoi. Worse, Cambodia temporarily banned international marriages with Korean men after marriage brokers arranged interviews for dozens of Cambodian women who were to be lined up for one Korean man.
Such incidents greatly damage Koreas national image. In a welcome move, the Korean Justice Ministry has taken steps to prevent further abuse of foreign brides. Koreans who want to visit a foreign country to search for a spouse will require training. In addition, those convicted of domestic violence or bankruptcy and those seeking to marry much younger spouses will be banned from international marriages. Also needed is strengthened monitoring and supervision of marriage brokers.