[Letters] Korea should protect the weakIt took the recent death of a young and hopeful Vietnamese woman to bring attention to the dark side of human behavior and a practice that has gone on for so long. While it is known that her killer is a mentally unstable man, the circumstances of how these two tied the knot is disturbing and leave many wondering what happened to the law and how such a tragedy could be prevented.
As a foreigner living and working in Korea, I think that Koreans are a very proud people, hardworking and just. They have a high sense of nationalism. I remember vividly when two Korean girls were accidentally killed by a U.S. military vehicle. I witnessed how the whole country was mobilized and awoken by protests for months.
While I do not expect similar reaction to the murder of the Vietnamese woman or the rape of a young Vietnamese girl in Dongdaemun by a Korean man, let’s not forget that these victims have parents, brothers, sisters and relatives who care deeply about them and who want to see justice.
I do not place the blame solely on the Korean system or its people. The government of Vietnam must share the culpability and be held accountable for its weakness and willful blindness to the suffering of its people. The Vietnamese government only cares about its survival and the welfare of its officials who are too corrupt to worry about citizens.
Any protest to voice injustice, wrongdoing or inaction of the government would be swiftly crushed. Most, if not all, of these foreign wives come from rural areas, with education typically at the elementary level. They are very gullible and ill-informed. Unable to afford to go to school, many must work at a young age to assist their families.
It is obvious that most of these marriages take place based on economic needs, rather than love. How else would one explain a 20-year-old woman choosing to marry a man old enough to be her father, not to mention the fact that communication was next to nonexistent since she spoke no Korean? It would seem that many men, while not all, marry women who are poor with little or no opportunity to rise in society because these men cannot find Korean women who would marry them or they’re in search of low-maintenance housemaids.
I have also seen articles and pictures of Korean men traveling to Vietnam through unlicensed and unscrupulous matchmaking agencies to meet these young girls, some in their teens, others in their 20s, parading nude so that the men can choose whom to marry. It is degrading and disgusting to say the least. It is no wonder the relationship usually ends up in divorce or tragedy. It is abominable to see one group of people exploiting others in modern times.
However, one may take comfort in the fact that the Korean government now seems to be heading in the right direction by considering a law that would require men to reveal their past record of domestic violence, mental disorders or human trafficking. Only through transparency and justice would Korea maintain its respectable image for its prowess, pride and achievement. I hope the law comes into effect to bring honor to the fact that Korea has worked so hard, so fast to become a major international powerhouse in many areas.
As for the Vietnamese government, there is no hope that it would take any type of preventive measures to protect its citizens. They might claim to have a law in place to deal with such an issue. However, let’s face it: having a law is one thing but whether it is enforced, and how, is a different matter in a communist country.
project manager for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and adjunct professor at the University of Maryland University College
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