Marriage migrants happier at home

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Marriage migrants happier at home

Marriage immigrants are more satisfied with their family relationships than are non-multicultural couples in Korea, according to research released by the Health Ministry yesterday.

The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs asked 154,000 marriage immigrants broad questions related to living, working, welfare and family issues.

That research - which represents the first time the entire marriage immigrant population has been studied in Korea - will be used to develop policies that improve living conditions for multicultural families.

The number of marriage immigrants here rose sharply last year, from 144,385 to 167,090, an increase of 15.7 percent. Most of the immigrants are women, as women in small farming and fishing villages increasingly move from their own communities to cities and the men who remain seek wives from foreign countries. Only 9.6 in every 100 marriage immigrants are male.

According to the study, 57 percent of female marriage immigrants and 53.8 percent of male marriage immigrants responded they are satisfied with their life in Korea.

In family relationships, 74.8 percent of the immigrants said they are satisfied with their relationship with their spouse; 88.1 percent said they are happy with their relationship with their children; and 64.8 percent said they are satisfied with their relationship with their parents-in-law.

All of the figures were slightly higher than those of all-Korean couples. Of those respondents, 65.7 percent said they are satisfied with their spouse and 72.7 percent and 52.4 percent said they are satisfied with their relationships with their children and in-laws, respectively.

Marriage immigrants suffered, however, in an economic comparison. Most multicultural families reported low incomes: 38.4 percent of marriage immigrants said they earn between 1 million won ($885) and 2 million won per month, and 21.3 percent said they earn less than 1 million won.

“All-Korean households earn between 3.3 million and 3.4 million won on average, and the research suggests that the average incomes of multicultural families are low,” a Health Ministry official said.

Marriage immigrants also reported facing discrimination and frustration living in Korea. The research found that 34.8 percent of female marriage immigrants and 52.8 percent of male marriage immigrants said they were treated differently by others simply because they are foreigners.

The survey, which was conducted from July through October of last year, included marriage immigrants from China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, as well as ethnic Koreans living in China. The Ministry said it will conduct similar surveys every three years.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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