Concerns over international bride flow into Korea
The numbers of mail-brides coming to Korea is on the rise: in the decade between 2001 and 2010, the number of Korean-issued marriage licenses between Korean men and Filipina women rose nearly four-fold, from 502 to 1,906. This influx of foreign brides arouses concerns as to the fate of these women who search for new opportunities outside of their home countries, both within Korea and in the “bride-exporting” countries. Controversial matchmaking practices, such as arranging marriages between younger women and much older men or between strangers, are common among international marriage brokers. Such practices continue to draw strong criticism from women’s groups and human rights advocates for their similarities to human trafficking. One well-publicized case from 2011 involved a stabbing death of a newly-wed Vietnamese woman by her husband, 14 years older than her. To curtail such practices, Vietnamese authorities have recently enacted strict measures to prohibit young Vietnamese women from marrying Korean men over the age of 50. Another measure will prohibit marriages between Korean-Vietnamese couples who have age gaps of more than 16 years.
On the Korean side, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Philippine government to ensure safer international marriages for both spouses. The two governments will also run a joint education program for spouses before they leave the Philippines, in order to ensure accurate information exchange between grooms- and brides-to-be and to try to stop illegal marriage practices.
Amid rising concerns over such marriage arrangements, Cambodia also introduced tighter regulations, banning marriages between Cambodian women and Korean men over the age of 50 who have a monthly income of less than $2,550.
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