Til Death Do Us Part: Foreign Vietnamese Brides Killed in South Korea

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Last month, a South Korean man named Lim Chae Won stabbed his Vietnamese wife Hoang Thi Nam to death as their baby lay next to her.

Last year, a mentally challenged Korean man murdered his Vietnamese wife after one week of marriage.

That same year, a Vietnamese bride, unable to communicate to anyone because she didn’t know Korean, ran away after being sexually assaulted multiple times by her Korean husband.

In 2008, a Vietnamese bride committed suicide due to her inability to assimilate into Korean culture and her feelings of stress and alienation thereof.

In 2007, a Vietnamese bride was found dead, beaten to death, in her Korean husband’s basement.

That same year, a Vietnamese bride tried to escape from the 9th floor of her Korean husband’s apartment complex but fell to her death after her makeshift rope tore apart.

News reports of abuse, murders, and suicides of Vietnamese brides in South Korea have been piling up for the last couple of years. Why has there been so little done by government officials? Cambodian government officials temporarily stopped the flow of foreign brides out of their country in 2008, and earlier this year, the Cambodian government placed a ban on foreign men over the age of 50 marrying local women (a move which many have contested as discriminatory). Is it time for Vietnam or South Korea to do something similar to protect potential brides from violence abroad?

Currently in South Korea, there are about 19,000 Vietnamese brides. Most of these women are married into families with unknown economic and medical backgrounds. As a result, many brides find themselves forced into poor households or wedded to husbands with serious mental or physical health issues.  

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