South Korea Bolsters Protections for Vietnamese Brides

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South Korea is taking steps to reform the matchmaking process and experts have called on Vietnam to do the same.

Some 38,000 Vietnamese women flocked to South Korea from 2004 to 2009, according to the National Statistical Office in Korea, which recorded 7,249 such marriages last year alone.

Official figures from the Korean Justice Ministry show that around another 2,300 Vietnamese wives have migrated to South Korea during the first half of this year.

Starting this November, Koreans hoping to wed foreigners will have to take educational courses about international marriages, and those who fail to attend will have visas denied to their brides, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said in late July.

The move came in response to the brutal murder of a 20-year-old Vietnamese bride by her schizophrenic husband – eight days after her arrival in the country. The murder sparked public outrage and growing uneasiness about the export of Vietnamese brides.

“We promise to set up measures to prevent such an incident from occurring again,” the Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said in a press release issued at the time.

However, experts argue that these classes will not suffice in tackling the problem, given the continued demand for Vietnamese wives among Korean men. The tragedies of Vietnamese wives stemmed chiefly from the lack of background information – mental health records, criminal background checks, etc. – leading to a breakdown in these marriages, said Kang Sung Hea of the Emergency Support Center for Migrant Woman for Migrant Women in South Korea.