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Korean Bridegrooms Face Questions about Their Financial Ability and Family Background

Korean Bridegrooms Face Questions about Their Financial Ability and Family Background

Posted August. 25, 2005 02:59,   


Jeon (50, Yeosan-myeon, Iksan city, Jeollabuk-do) tosses and turns at night these days. He is concerned because his Philippine wife is still in her home country, three months after they said “I do” in the Philippines in mid May. He said, “It wasn’t an easy decision to marry a foreigner. I couldn’t find the one at home, partly because I live in a rural area and I was married once.” And he sighed, saying, “I’m just worried that the marriage itself might be cancelled.”

As Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam are strengthening their procedures for international marriage with an aim to protect their own women, many Korean bachelors such as Jeon are getting into trouble. These countries are taking measures in response to the revelations of domestic violence and other sufferings that their own women experience after they get married to Korean men.

Last year alone, a total of 25,000 foreign women tied the knot with Korean men. In particular, the number of Vietnamese and Philippine women who married Korean men has surged dramatically by 20 times and two times to 2,462 and 964, respectively, compared to four years ago. But it seems that it’s going to get tougher to get a foreign bride.

The Philippine government made it mandatory for its female citizens married to foreigners to take courses such as “Overcoming cultural differences” and “How to deal with domestic violence” offered by a government agency under the Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They are required to take four different one-day courses. But they have to wait after signing up for each course each time. So it’s not unusual to wait four to five months to finish all the required courses. Therefore, Philippine brides who used to be able to finish all their legal procedures in one month, now wait more than four to five months before they can arrive in Korea.

In Vietnam, the prime minister took the initiative and ordered a strengthening of the procedure of international marriage in March this year. The country used to approve of international marriage based on documents. But since the prime minister stepped in, a people’s committee, which is equivalent to a district office in Korea, assesses a bridegroom’s financial capability, family background and ability to support a wife by interviewing both the bridegroom and the bride.

Ahn (45), who has been waiting for his wife since he married a Vietnamese woman in early July, said, “The people’s committee asked me about my financial assets and family background through an interpreter in advance. But they rechecked them again several times at the interview. I felt like a suspect being interrogated.” He added, “They required more than 10 kinds of documents and they made me submit them again if they found any slightest mistake. So I ended up visiting the country twice more than planned.”

One official from the Vietnamese embassy said, “The prime minister issued an official document and strengthened the procedure of international marriage, after it became known that Vietnamese women married to Korean men are suffering,” adding, “We understand that they review the marriages with Korean men more rigorously.”

Korea should remember, “As a man sows, so shall he reap.” The pain and suffering from some foreign brides experienced in Korea boomerang on Korean men who want to get married to foreigners.

Lee Eun-tae, the president of Interwedding, an international marriage agency, said, “Some Korean men even regard a foreign bride as a housemaid, so there is no shortage of problems, including domestic violence,” adding, “And predictably, these cases contribute to tarnishing the image of Korean men in Southeastern Asian countries.”

He said, “One out of 10 marriages last year was an international marriage,” adding, “Of course, Korean men should first change their perception, but at the same time, the Korean government should pay more attention to helping foreign women adjust to life in Korea and protecting them in an effort to improve human rights and the national image.”