Korea’s intercultural marriages still on decline

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Korea’s intercultural marriages still on decline

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The number of intercultural marriages in Korea continues to drop, although all marriages also declined.

The number of intercultural divorces also fell.

There were 22,462 new intercultural marriages reported last year, a 7.9 percent decrease compared to the previous year, Statistics Korea said on Wednesday. During the same period, the overall number of marriages in the country dropped 0.9 percent year on year to 303,000. The number of intercultural marriages have declined every year since 2010.

“The Korean government strengthened its regulations on marriage brokers in 2010 after a large number of crimes occurred,” said Lee Jee-yeon, a director at Statistics Korea. “There were many cases including one in which a Korean man killed his Cambodian wife to get the insurance money.”

Korean men marrying foreign women accounted for 62.6 percent of all intercultural marriages, while foreign men marrying Korean women accounted for 22.9 percent. The number of foreign men wedding Korean women rose in 2015 compared to the previous year.

Intercultural marriages accounted for 7.4 percent of all marriages last year, continuing a fall from 2008’s 11.2 percent.

By region, North Jeolla had the highest proportion of intercultural marriages at 8.4 percent, followed by the southern island of Jeju at 8.2 percent and South Jeolla at 8.1 percent.

“There were more men in rural areas who looked for partners overseas since there are relatively fewer young women in those regions,” Lee said.

Korean men over the age of 45 marrying foreigners accounted for 22.7 percent of all intercultural marriages, but the statistics agency said that figure is declining, while it is rising for men in their late 20s and early 30s.

“The data showed that 77.5 percent of Korean men who married foreigners were older than their wives,” said Lee. The number of husbands who were 10 years older accounted for 37.7 percent of couples in which husbands were older than wives.

Of non-Korean men who entered into intercultural marriages last year, Chinese men accounted for 9.7 percent, followed by American men at 7.3 percent and Japanese at 3.6 percent. “The number of men from Vietnam, China and the United States rose compared to the previous year, while it dropped for Japanese,” Lee at the statistics agency said.

Of non-Korean women who entered into intercultural marriages last year, Chinese women accounted for 27.9 percent, followed by Vietnamese (23.1 percent) and Filipinas (4.7 percent). Chinese include Chinese citizens of Korean descent.

The number of intercultural divorces and babies born in such marriages also dropped.

In 2015, there were 11,287 such divorcees, a 12.5 percent decrease from the 12,902 recorded in 2014.

The divorce rate was higher for Korean men and foreign women at 48.8 percent of the total. The figure for foreign men divorcing Korean women was 17.8 percent.

“Fewer intercultural couples are divorcing compared to the past and they are living longer together,” said Lee. The average duration of an intercultural marriage that failed was 6.9 years last year, which was slightly higher than the 6.4 years recorded in 2014.

The number of babies born to intercultural couples dropped 6.8 percent year to 19,729 last year. Babies born in Korea rose 0.7 percent to 438,000.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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