April 01, 2015 05:48 UTC

As It Is

Divorce Rates High for Korea's Migrant Brides

A couple in Thailand shoot an arrow through a heart on their wedding day. Unfortunately, many migrant brides in South Korea don't have such happy marriages.
A couple in Thailand shoot an arrow through a heart on their wedding day. Unfortunately, many migrant brides in South Korea don't have such happy marriages.
Korea's Migrant Brides
Korea's Migrant Bridesi
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From VOA Learning English, this is As It Is.  I'm Anna Matteo in Washington.

Marrying someone from a different culture is very common.  People do it all the time.  And many international marriage brokers earn large profits by playing matchmaker for people.  But what happens when the marriage business starts to resemble the selling of women?  Some experts are examining the situation of migrant brides in South Korea.
 
Tens of thousands of South Korean men have married foreign women over the past 10 years.  However, the government reports that many of those marriages end in divorce.  And women’s rights experts are concerned about how these immigrant women are being treated.  They are asking the Korean government to make rules for these marriages.   
 
Lee Soo-yeon is a Vietnamese migrant bride.  Six years ago, she left Vietnam to marry a South Korean man.  Now 36-years old, she works as a translator at a center for immigrant women in Asan, a city 48 kilometers south of Seoul.  She speaks Korean and uses a Korean name, but Ms. Lee is no longer with her Korean husband.
 
“At first we could not communicate well. And later we began to fight a lot. He hit me. I do not hate him now, but I realized he has a drinking problem”
 
The couple’s young child now lives with Ms. Lee’s mother-in-law.  She says it is unlikely she will reunite with her husband.  She blames the marriage agency that introduced them in Vietnam.
 
“Marriage agencies do not provide any information about the men they introduce to the women. We need to know more about these men, their personalities and their financial stability.” 
 
Divorces among international couples are on the rise.  As a result, the South Korean government has made new rules for giving marriage visas.  There are new financial requirements and the couple must demonstrate that they can actually talk to each other.
 
Chung Chin-sung is a sociology professor at Seoul National University.  She advises the Korean government on multicultural family policy.  She says a language requirement could help improve marriages.  But, she adds, the new visa rules do not deal with the main problem of these marriages.  She says women are being sold like a product.
 
“That kind of marriage market where, especially women, become a product, like a product, not a human being, should be corrected.”
 
Ms. Chung suggests banning agencies that arrange quick marriages between people who barely know each other.
 
Jolly Regacho is a counselor at the Asan migrant center.  She says if the South Korean government really wants to make stronger marriages, more education is important.  The husband, she feels, should also learn about his wife’s culture.  
 

“They should also make a project for the husband to learn the culture of their wife as well.”
 
Even with the break-up of her marriage, migrant bride Lee Soo-yeon says she does not plan to go back to Vietnam.  She says Korea is her new home.  
 
This report was written by VOA reporters in Korea, Jason Strother and Malte Kollenberg.
 
And I’m Anna Matteo. 

What do you think about the situation of migrant brides and international marriages?  
Do you think the Korean government should regulate this industry?  Let us know in our comment section where you can share your opinions and discuss the issue with other listeners.
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Korean Migrant Brides

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 4
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by: Happy from: Japan
06/16/2014 6:28 AM
International marriage will be incresing more as time goes passes because of international society from economy with others. Marriage life is necessary to understand each other why he or she do. Because, we have different personality and culture each other even we are person from same country.
To resolve about marriage life with others country or person from different country person we have to understand deeply about her or him with society where they came from.
So, marriage agency have to try to encourage and focus on person deeply with their country culture. If it will be success with themselves , divorse persent might down at least.

In Response

by: Moderator
06/17/2014 1:41 PM
Communication is key in any relationship.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments!


by: Mi Thieu from: Viet Nam
06/10/2014 11:05 AM
As far as i know that the Vietnamese and the Korean looks down on international marriages. As might be expected, Korea's migrant bride expcet that their marriages will bring in money and opportunities for change Vietnamese and their family life. In fact, husband and wife in international marriages almost have not empathy. They can not even talk together. In the other words, international marriages in this situation is a pragmatic exchange. One of the main arguments in fovour of consequence that children of international marriages suffer

In Response

by: Moderator
06/10/2014 1:53 PM
We have an expression for such a pragmatic arrangement - "a marriage of convenience."

Thanks for your comments.


by: Kim Thoa from: Vietnam
06/10/2014 9:19 AM
Up to me , the rootten reason of many multiculture couples in Korean nowadays is the poverty .Many women in Vietnam hope to get a clear future by living overseas,in that case , Korea .The marriage is one way to help them.Eventhough they must face a lot of difficulties at the present ,their next generation will get a better life


by: Anonymous
06/10/2014 9:04 AM
from my Point of view,Marrying someone from a different culture is not a good thing, unless they don't know about each other . How they can share their thoughts without knowing the language that their spose speaks. This foolishness make me to astonish.

In Response

by: Moderator
06/10/2014 1:50 PM
I could be difficult to get to know someone if you can't speak with them.
Thanks for writing.


by: My from: Moscow
06/10/2014 5:46 AM
Instead of waiting for Korean's government taking actions, why don't vietnamese government hold free classes for vietnamese young girls in rural area where there are increasing numbers of interracial marriage with Korean men, having them aware of culture difference, family conflicts, language barries, the worst situations which might happen when they move to a new country with their husbands. These girls aren't well-educated enough to be aware of those above differences. My case is an example, I can speak vietnamese and english while my boyfriend can speak russian only. Before moving to Russia with him, I have to teach him English to have basic communication with me. And now I'm going to study Russian. Problems are still arising every day and we are working on our relationship based on Love and Respect. Anyway, I'm aware of it before coming here and luckily he is not that violent person. Everything is still in control. I hope that vietnamese women, who are going to marry someone from different culture, will be aware of differences, problems, possibilities and risks. The most important factor is to marry someone who loves and respects you no matter where he comes from

In Response

by: Moderator
06/10/2014 1:54 PM
Sound like both of you are trying hard to make your marriage work. Best wishes!
Thanks for sharing your personal experience and joining the conversation!


by: Tuan Minh from: Vietnam
06/10/2014 3:15 AM
The marrige needs the deep-understanding from both of the man and the woman. But the understanding only comes from the period of dating, naturally. Hence he/she can find out the right person who he/she can give his/her life to.
Language and the difference of culture are also the reasons of divorce.

I used to watch a video of Vietnamese brides selection. There were 3-4 men (maybe Korean or Chinese), and over 10 Vietnamese young women. The women undressed themself and showed their bodies to the men. After choosing the their brides, the men will take marrige in 2 days. It were so rediculous, right?


by: Tuong from: Viet Nam
06/09/2014 3:10 PM
Hi everyone, I'm Tuong from Viet Nam. I have heard a lot of stories about this problem. Many vietnamese women were treated badly by the korea man. I'm really sad about it.Women from my country they are really hard working and love the husband and the family so much. many times the bad husbands hit them insult them but they are still accepting. why? it's because they think about the children. If they get divorce the baby will be very sad. About this problem I think it should be stopped. To have the happy marriage the husband and the wife must understand and forgive each other. the husband should share the power with his wife. it does not mean the husband weak it's about he respects the wife.

In Response

by: Alessandro Lemes from: Brazil
06/10/2014 2:34 AM
Hi Tuong !
I agree with your opinion.
I think that the marriage is the best definition of complicity and don't go anywhere without love.
The husband need to love your wife and find understand and help her.
The wife need to be kind and lovely to grow up like a happy family.


by: Wuan Mi from: ulsan
06/09/2014 12:47 AM
I am Vietnamese and I am studying in South Korea. In my opinion, the divorce rate in South Korea is increased because of the following reasons: First, The Korea man is not respect to his wife, who is from a poor country like Vietnam. Second, they think a women like a product. They buy this product and they can do whatever they want. ...

In Response

by: Korean guy from: Spain
06/22/2014 11:02 AM
I think you did generalized all of Korean men based on insufficient experience. Our marriage culture is still old fashion like 1970s in other culture. Most of Korean men pay for house when they get married which is ridiculous. Not only marriage also when we date as a couple normally guys pay for most of things as well. Nowadays Korean girls get into university rate is higher than guys. Also they can get a job same opportunities as guy furthermore some of field in the education women hired rate is more than guys. But they, most of women of course, still insist that we should keep maintaining our culture that i've mentioned because they don't want to get a duty but take advantage by acting like a victim. We don't want to treat women as a product but i think they want to be a product. If you can not afford to pay for date or house for the marriage we could not even have a girlfriend. And i think we can apply this case for Vietnamese girls. If you do not want to be treat as a product you can get married in your country. What makes the Vietnamese girls came to Korea for marriage? Because of money and they want to get marry of connivence

In Response

by: Moderator
06/09/2014 1:36 PM
Several listeners have commented that the divorce rate for South Korea men married to immigrants may be rising because some men do not respect their wives and treat them a product, to be bought and sold.

Thank you for writing.


by: reza from: usa
06/08/2014 9:03 PM
Immigrant marriages can be helpful to explore the peace around the world if it happen with love and scarified ..

In Response

by: Moderator
06/09/2014 1:39 PM
The Beatles sang, "All you need is love." But actually a successful marriage also needs work and mutual respect. Just to name a few.

Thanks for writing!


by: nagim from: comment
06/08/2014 8:27 PM
Marrying someone from a different culture is very common but i am afried

In Response

by: Moderator
06/09/2014 1:41 PM
The unknown can be very scary.
Thanks for sharing in our comment section!

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