Helping foreign brides learn KoreanTwo months ago, a 60-year-old man, out of anger, set an international marriage agency building on fire. He recently held his wedding in Vietnam with his new Vietnamese bride, but her visa application was refused because of her Korean language level.
Such issues were caused by the new restrictions that came into effect last year on international marriage - one of them was a requirement for marriage migrants to pass a Korean language proficiency test.
When it comes to international marriage in Korea, the undeniable truth is that “love” is not the main factor. The women choose to marry a Korean man as a solution to poverty while the men, who tend to be of low social status and struggle to find partners, consider international marriage as an alternative way to carry on their family name.
They look for partners on match-making websites, through which they can select their ideal partners and tie the knot within several days. It is difficult for them to build deep relationships that would enable them to cope with potential conflicts after marriage.
Language inability places foreign brides in a vulnerable position that makes them heavily reliant on their husbands. A possible suggestion would be carrying out a study on the migrant women and identifying their needs with the experts in fields, such as social welfare and Korean language education, along with the regional experts of Southeast Asia.
Based on the study, the government could run an online website that not only provides free Korean language and culture lessons, but also the stories of multi-cultural families. The prospective brides will easily be able to study for the language test at any place and prepare for their marriage.
Language is our greatest mediator that allows us to relate and understand each other. It clearly should be a priority for successful and harmonious marital relationships.
by Kang Min-ha Student at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies