Thursday, October 22, 2009
Foreign Brides for our Korean Men.
My pastor mentioned the difficulty he has with a Vietnamese bride of one of his Catholics. She can't speak Korean and he has to prepare the necessary paper work for the marriage. This is not an uncommon occurrence in Korea these days. One of the newsletters mentioned a priest who went visiting one of his parishioners who is Vietnamese with a Vietnamese Religious. They seemed like a happily married couple, poor, the daughter in law faithfully studying her Korean. He left with a prayer that this happiness he saw would continue.
There are over 127,000 foreign wives in Korea.They come from ethnic Koreans in China (48,888), China (30,845), Vietnam (20,942), Philippines (7,601), Japan (5,949), Taiwan (2,043), Russia (877), the other countries (6,806). Taken from Ministry of Public Administration and Security for 2008.
Some of these are happy but many of them are limping along. There is often age difference, language, culture, the mother-in-law problem, poverty, the desire for the homeland. A priest who has the responsibility for social issues in his diocese was very upset by the part the brokers have in recruiting brides for the farmers. He maintains international marriage brokers are responsible for much of the unhappiness experienced by migrant wives. A considerable number of Korean men pay large sums of money to brokers: their foreign wives are considered possessions they have bought and demand obedience from them. Many of these brokers consider themselves saviors of the farm youth and the foreign girls who want a better life. The girls are sacrificing themselves for the family to get a dowry but most of the time it is a pittance. The brokers are in it for the money and many times our Christians are in this trade. There is not sufficient time to get acquainted; they want the money and rush matters which is not good for the union. The farmer has a debt to pay back and the young woman does not know what she is getting into. This does not foretell a happy life.
The priest's dream is that the farmers get a good price for their products, the Korean young girls stay on the farm to marry and the brokers find other work. Males outnumber the females in Korea: in 1998 for each 100 females at birth there was 110.2 males. This ratio has been reduced but the men will be dealing with these figures for some time to come. The government knows the problems that this is having on the country and family life and doesn't know what to do. They have taken some steps to regulate the brokers, and to educate the brides and even programs for the husbands but it will take a great deal more. The government has tried hard to help the farmers but it seems like a losing battle. The Korean farmers do not have the land under cultivation to be competitive and when free trade comes it will be an impossible situation.