'Please Treat Our Daughters Well'

      November 01, 2007 10:59

      At a ceremony to formally accept the credentials of Korean Ambassador to Vietnam Im Hong-jae, Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet asked the diplomat and the Korean government to help Vietnamese women who have married Korean men to better integrate into Korean society. Pham The Duyet, president of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, made similar remarks to the Korean ambassador at an event to hand over aid for Vietnamese flood victims. Koreans should pay more attention to Vietnamese people in Korean society, he told Ambassador Im.

      These days, Vietnam is being rocked by sad stories of their women who are living in pain and suffering in Korea. In Daejeon in July, a 19-year-old Vietnamese bride died after being beaten so severely by her husband that 18 of her ribs were broken. Some Vietnamese women come to Korea duped into marrying Korean men, who divorced their wives on paper only, simply to get another woman to bear them a child. After they have the child, the Vietnamese women are divorced. Incidents like these have been carried in Vietnamese media, leading to mounting calls to reconsider diplomatic ties with Korea.

      Last year, 14,450 Chinese, 9,812 Vietnamese, 1,131 Filipina and 559 Mongolian brides wed Korean husbands. If you consider the fact that most of the Chinese brides are ethnic Koreans, then Vietnamese women make up the largest group of foreign brides. And their numbers are rising steeply each year. But many foreign brides, including the Vietnamese ones, are suffering poverty, violence and abuse.

      In its human trafficking report, the U.S. State Department cited an advertisement by a Korean marriage broker that said, “Vietnamese Women Never Run Away.” The United Nations International Organization for Migration has decided to educate Vietnamese brides before they leave for Korea. And Vietnam’s leader ended up formally requesting the Korean government that measures be taken. Koreans are ashamed of themselves.

      A bill has been presented to the National Assembly seeking to bolster the present system of managing marriage brokers from merely registering to requiring strict screening. We must not only pass this bill quickly, but also work to make necessary legal and institutional changes. The most important thing is to increase awareness that foreign brides are Korean people too. They have been invited to our country due to the needs of other Koreans. We must think how sad and painful it would make us feel if our own daughters were abused and beaten after they were married.
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