Woori helps them say ‘yes’ when wallets say ‘no’

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Woori helps them say ‘yes’ when wallets say ‘no’

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Woori Financial Group Chairman Son Tae-seung, center, poses for a photo Sunday with 10 couples at the 8th Woori Wedding Day held in Jung District, central Seoul. [WOORI MULTICULTURAL SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION]

When a Korean construction worker and his Vietnamese wife, who works as a mushroom farmer, could not afford a formal wedding, the Woori Multicultural Scholarship Foundation stepped in and financed the ceremony.

The foundation, which is supported by the bank, has been covering wedding bills since 2013 for lower-income families where one spouse is originally from a foreign country. While the couples are already married, they have not had the money to mark the occasion properly.

The Korean-Vietnamese couple decided to apply for the opportunity when their eight-year-old daughter asked, “Mom, dad, why don’t you have wedding photos?”

They were part of the foundation’s 8th Woori Wedding Day, held at the group’s headquarters in Jung District, central Seoul. This year, 10 couples had wedding ceremonies.

The couples, dressed in tuxes and white dresses provided by the foundation, walked down the aisle with big smiles and to the sound of warm applause. After a few steps, they stood before Son Tae-seung, chairman at Woori Financial Group and CEO of Woori Bank, who officiated the wedding.

“I am honored to be invited to this special and beautiful occasion for couples that look so good together,” Son said as he officiated the wedding.

“I hope all couples here today to become harmonious families with love and respect.”

All of the couples at the Sunday wedding were already married households on paper. But they lacked the time and the resources to celebrate the moment.

About eight years ago, the construction worker gave a ride to the Vietnamese woman who was waiting for a bus to her workplace. After going out on several dates, the couple decided to tie the knot and live together, but as “life was burdensome,” they could never think of holding a wedding by themselves.

The couple is one of 80 married multicultural households that have received the support of the Woori Multicultural Scholarship Foundation to celebrate the milestone. The foundation has held weddings for 25 couples where one person is from Vietnam, 20 where one of the two is from China, 12 with one from Philippines and six where one of the two is from Mongolia.

Although multicultural marriage is sometimes seen in Korea as a man virtually buying a bride from overseas, the foundation said that is no longer the norm, as the 10 couples who celebrated their weddings Sunday all came together as a result of romantic relationships.

“Multicultural marriage is becoming more and more common, but our society is still less inclined to accept the reality,” said Yi Jongsu, a spokesperson for the Woori Financial Group.

“We take pride in supporting multicultural couples and will continue the support moving forward.”

The foundation spent about 7 million won ($5,900) per married couple for their weddings and honeymoons. It said around 50 married couples applied for the 10 spots this year.

The foundation, which also holds educational sessions and cultural events for children from multicultural households, recently provided 630 million won in scholarships to 400 multicultural students.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]

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