Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Korea's Problem With Foreign Brides

The priest in charge of the labor work for the diocese of Seoul had a disturbing article in the Catholic Times describing the plight of the foreign women married to Korean men. The number of women who have immigrated to Korea for marriage in 2008 where 11% of the total. It is no longer strange to see mothers with different facial complexions mixing Korean into their talk. There are now, as of 2009, 103,484 children born from these unions in Korea.

We usually hear about the problems of these women through the mass media. Many express much sympathy for these women but a statement by a group of priests familiar with the problem said: "the way we see the problem has improved ...but still our understanding has to change."

These women are faced with a great deal of difficulty right from the beginning. Many try to throw off their poverty by international marriages: it is relatively easy and inexpensive to get into the country. Many Korean men go through marriage brokers to find a wife; they have to use a sizable amount of money and the health and the age of the men is not a concern of the brokers. Consequently, the meaning of marriage, the duties and obligations are not considered important. Not only is the language a problem, but the different cultural barriers means the children have a good chance of being neglected. The poverty and the violence in the family causes many to break up, which becomes a problem for society.

Because of these problems the government and many NGOs are actively involved in helping these immigrant families. Even with all these efforts there are many women who are in very difficult situations: separated by death, divorce, or expelled by the in-laws, they end up trying to make it on their own. Their future is bleak, they are full of fear, have little strength, the violence they have heretofore experienced, does not compare with the fear they have facing the future.

These women are not just the object of our compassion, but they should be helped to become part of society. The work of their rehabilitation is important for their good and the good of society.

The government has now made it necessary for those marrying a Korean to know the language. It is a need to help the brides adapt to Korea .This is an area in which the Church is taking a very active part. The efforts of the government and the different groups in our society should bring about change. Those in responsible positions in the Catholic Church dealing with immigrant problems had a recent round table discussion, in which they have made known their proposals for improvement. The Church, and other parts of society know Korea is no longer a one cultured society, consequently the way of looking at the country has to change.

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