Korea to Tighten Visa Controls for Mail-Order Brides

      July 21, 2010 11:03

      The government is taking steps to prevent future tragedies like the murder of a Vietnamese mail-order bride by her mentally ill Korean husband earlier this month.

      In a meeting on Tuesday, the government discussed measures that include strengthening F-2 visa screening, forming a nonprofit international marriage organization, and dispatching government officials to monitor the activities of Korean matchmaking firms abroad.

      Immigrant women hold banners to pay tribute to a Vietnamese mail-order bride who was murdered by her mentally unstable Korean husband, in front of the National Human Rights Commission in Seoul on Tuesday. /Yonhap

      According to the Korea Consumer Agency, Korean men choose a foreign bride and buy her a wedding gift after a meeting of just two hours. Over the next two or three days, the couple buy more presents and the bride undergoes a health check. They then go on an outdoor photo shoot and take part in a group wedding followed by a banquet.

      After returning from their honeymoon, the husband fills out the necessary papers for a marriage certificate and heads back to Korea alone, to be joined by his wife once an F-2 visa is issued about three months later.

      The Justice Ministry approves F-2 visas relatively easily as long as proper marriage certificates, identification papers and family register documents are submitted. But now the government is minded to ask for more information, including the groom's employment status, previous marriages, health and criminal record.

      "We want to restrict visas for wives of men with a history of sexual violence, domestic abuse or repeated failed international marriages, financial problems or mental illness," said Kim Joong-ryul of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

      Women's rights groups wonder whether that will be enough. "Strengthening visa policies will end up making it more difficult for foreign women who are already married to Korean husbands to enter Korea," said Han Kook-yum of the Women Migrants Human Rights Center. "What's needed are measures to screen incompatible grooms from the beginning."

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