Virginia( not a real name) was a 27 year old Filipino woman who was married to a 42 year old South Korean man. She came to South Korea through her religious organization in the Philippines. After the religious authority paired her up with her South Korean husband that she’s never met before, she married her husband thinking her marriage was a divine appointment. Of course, she had no idea that her husband was poor and mentally ill until she witnessed his madness after conceiving a child with her husband. But, Virginia’s story is nothing new to many foreign women marrying to South Korean men. In fact, such trend of international marriage between a South Korean man and South Asian wife is rather increasing according to the recent report
Numbers are growing
According to the national statistics, total 1987 marriages were held between South Asian women and South Korean men in 2009 alone. The number of such international marriage constitutes 35% of the married couple in the same year in South Korea. The report also stated that 46% of the brides were from Vietnam, 26% of them were from China, and 10% of them were from Cambodia. However, a little seems to be done in terms of protecting the rights of the foreign brides from abusive Korean men and deceptive marriage brokers.
Many of the brides are still deceived into marrying poor and abusive Korean men. Though the international marriage agencies tell the future brides that their Korean husbands are wealthy and reputable businessmen, their husbands are often poor and sometimes mentally or physically ill. Sometimes, they look for wives because they need someone to take care of their old parents and children from their previous marriages. In other cases, women are recruited by job agencies in South Asia and lured into marrying a South Korean man who would rescue the woman’s life from poverty. But, what the agencies do not tell the women is that the South Korean husband expects the women to conform to his patriarchal values and demand obedience to what the husband says.
What South Korean government needs to do
As much as the South Korean government was the one who created this international marriage mess to increase population, it needs to take the responsibility to clean up the mess. Aside from improving the rights of these foreign brides, they need to take the stronger accountabilities against marriage broker agencies to protect these women. Also, the government must inform the South Korean men that they can no longer treat their wives as slaves. According to one report, many South Korean men marry South Asian women because South Asian women are obedient, docile, and familiar with Korean patriarchal culture. Moreover, because the women would be unfamiliar with Korean language and culture, there would be less likelihood that the women would run away from the husbands. Such report shows that these South Korean men marry foreign brides out of wrong reasons. Therefore, the husbands must be taught that the patriarchal values can no longer be held up against anyone regardless of the women’s nationality or economic status. Furthermore, the men need to be taught that they marry in order to share their lives with another person rather than to have a slave to take care of their properties and parents. But, who knows how much these men and the South Korean government would be willing to accept the responsibilities as much as they are willing to benefit from globalism?