By one key measure, Korea is becoming more diverse
Korea is becoming more diverse, the numbers seem to indicate.
According to Statistics Korea on Thursday, last year the number of multiethnic couples marrying in 2019 was 24,721, 4 percent more than in 2018.
The total is 10.3 percent of all marriages in Korea last year.
As a result, the marriages between a Korean and a foreigner accounted for 10.3 percent of all marriages in Korea in 2019. That’s a 1.1 percentage-point increase compared to the previous year.
That is not a record. In 2008, 11.2 percent of all marriages were multiethnic. The figure dropped to 7.4 percent in 2015. It has been steadily rising since then.
Korean men married foreigners more than Korean women married foreigners, with 69.3 percent of the multiethnic marriages last year being in the former category.
Couples where the wife were Korean accounted for 17.2 percent. In the rest of the cases, a naturalized Korean married a foreigner.
In 78.5 percent of the couples, the man was older than the woman. In 42 percent of the cases, the husband is at least 10 years older than the woman.
Among all the multiethnic couples married last year, Vietnamese women married Korean men in 30.4 percent of the cases, followed by Chinese women, at 20.3 percent, and Thai women, at 8.3 percent.
Among the foreign men, Chinese were 8.2 percent of the total, Americans 6.1 percent and Vietnamese 2.6 percent.
The majority of the mixed couples lived in the greater Seoul area. Gyeonggi had the most followed by Seoul and Incheon.
The sharpest on-year increase of mixed couples was in Sejong, at 26.1 percent, followed by Gangwon, at 13.2 percent.
The number of newly married multiethnic couples fell 2 percent in Daejeon, 1.6 percent in North Chungcheong and 0.8 percent in South Chungcheong.
While the number of multiethnic married couples has increased, they are having fewer children.
Last year 17,939 babies were born from multiethnic couples. That’s a 0.8 percent dip compared to 2018.
Babies born from mixed couples accounted for 5.6 percent of all babies born last year, a 0.4 percentage point increase.
Fewer multiethnic couples divorced last year.
Last year 9,868 couples split, which is a 3.8 percent drop from the previous year.
On average, the divorced couples had been married for 8.6 years. That’s double the 4.1 years in 2009.
"The data on mixed couples from marriages, divorces as well as birth and death will be used in creating policies for such diverse families," said Kim Soo-young, head of the Statistics Korea's vital statistics division.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]