The huge demand for mail-order brides in South Korea’s rural areas has pushed the national government to fund mail-order bride schools overseas. According to Washington Post, South Korea is financing training centers for mail-order brides in Ho Chi Minh, including one institution called Asia Cultural Exchange Foundation, which reportedly gets an annual $80,000 funding from the South Korean government.
A few surveys have concluded that as much as one out of every five South Korean men in the country’s provinces is married to a foreigner. South Korea has seen a great number of foreign women enter the country’s rural areas over the past 15 years, usually invited over by minimum wage earning South Korean men who are struggling to find suitable local women.
Arranged marriages are perceived by most human rights organizations as inhumane and unfair to women. However, instead of imposing harsh bans or penalties on the arranged marriages “industry” in the Asian region, South Korea has chosen to regulate and finance mail-order bride schools abroad to meet the demands of the country’s young, provincial bachelors.
The schools in Vietnam offer courses to young, preferably attractive women, and can last from one day to three days. Students of these schools undergo rigorous training to prepare them for a life of marriage in South Korea. Vietnamese bride-to-be’s are taught the South Korean way, from speaking the local language to everyday cultural values, according to Ryot.
These schools could be found all over Vietnam. There is even one at the second floor of the South Korean Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, according to the Post. Kim Ki-young, who runs a prominent bride-training institution called Asia Cultural Exchange Foundation, said:
“Frankly speaking, this is not education. This is orientation.”
So, why do Vietnamese women want to become wives in South Korea? According to Kim, South Korean soap operas, which can be viewed throughout southeast Asia, have influenced many of the young women in Vietnam. These TV shows typically portray rags-to-riches stories of women leading luxurious lives in the bustling cities of South Korea.
“Most of them have some kind of fantasy. They think they will be very happy.”
Unfortunately, these arranged marriages do not tend to last very long. According to recent statistics, a large number of marriages involving mail-order brides end up in divorce after just a few months, leading to newly-divorced South Korean men to pursue more foreign ladies. While South Korea continues to encourage this type of behavior, in the end, it is the women of Vietnam that suffer the most from this “trade”.
[Image from Jonathan Tommy/Flickr]