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For Vietnamese, Korean Men Are Princes

Posted February. 23, 2007 06:49,   


“To be honest, I do not know much about Korea except the nation’s image depicted on television programs. But Korea seems to have a beautiful natural environment. Korean men look sophisticated, amicable, and responsible. They seem like they are taking good care of their families and colleagues.”

This is the impression that Totti Bien (22), a Vietnamese woman, has about her husband’s country, Korea. She is now waiting to visit and live in Korea after recently marrying a Korean male (39).

The New York Times (NYT) printed a special article on February 22 that covers international marriages between Korean men and Vietnamese women, saying, “Because of Hallyu, to many Asian women, including Vietnamese, Korea is seen an ideal nation that successfully harmonizes tradition and modernity. For them, Korea produces irresistibly tempting Samsung mobile phones while the country considers family values significant.”

Bien graduated from a university in Vietnam and is also a big fan of British soccer star David Beckham and French soccer player Zinédine Zidane. Her parents, construction workers in Vietnam, said, “We are poor, but Koreans have much better lives than Vietnamese.”

Another Vietnamese woman, Buiti Tui (22), is planning to wed a Korean farm owner who once separated with his spouse because of her death and then divorced another marriage partner. She said happily, “A friend of mine says she is happy living with a Korean guy in Seoul. She says there are so many people and buildings there.” Tui, one of five siblings born to a poor farmer, signed up at a marriage counseling company right after she graduated from a high school.

But parents feel sad about their daughters who rush to wedding ceremonies only 40 hours after they go out on a blind date with an old divorcee with an old mother and grown children.

Tui’s father (52) complained to a staff member at the matching firm, saying, “He is too old.” Tui’s husband pressed the counselor, “Please tell him that I will send 100 dollars per month to the family in Vietnam.”

The NYT analyzed in the article, “The upgraded social status of South Korean women caused by the country’s economic growth and its unequal gender ratios have resulted in these kinds of international marriages.”

The NYT points out that as the social standing of women in the U.S. was elevated in the 1990’s, American men flocked to Russia to find obedient marriage partners, rather than “self-assertive” American women. At the time, however, the imbalance of men and women in numbers was not a serious issue. In contrary to Korea, that did not spark the development of the international matchmaking service in the U.S.