Friday, February 23, 2007

Korean dudes seek Vietnamese brides

According to this article, wedding tours in Vietnam are very popular with Korean men who have difficulty finding a partner the traditional way.

Here are some excerpts:
"In a day or two, if his five-day marriage tour went according to plan, he would be wed and enjoying his honeymoon."
"Now, that industry is seizing on an increasingly globalized marriage market and sending comparatively affluent Korean bachelors searching for brides in the poorer corners of China and Southeast and Central Asia. The marriage tours are fueling an explosive growth in marriages to foreigners in South Korea, a country whose ethnic homogeneity lies at the core of its self-identity."
"One Korean broker said the 22-year-old, who seemed bright and assertive, would adapt well to South Korea. Another suggested flipping a coin." "The widespread availability of sex-screening technology for pregnant women since the 1980s has resulted in the birth of a disproportionate number of South Korean males. What is more, South Korea’s growing wealth has increased women’s educational and employment opportunities, even as it has led to rising divorce rates and plummeting birthrates."

So, is this comical or trashy? At first, I'm embarrassed for the Korean man. ("Hey how did you meet your wife"? "Oh, on a 5-day wife-tour in Vietnam"). Marriage partners have replaced sex as the newest commodity for guys who have no chance of getting laid in Korea. A commodity is what these girls are.

On other hand, it's mutual exploitation. In the arrangement, the poor Vietnamese girl and the middle-class Korean man use each other. The former dispenses sexual and marital satisfaction in exchange for better quality of life. For a lifelong partner, the latter sends a envelop to Vietnam each month with a significant chunk of his middle-class paycheck. Also, can you blame the Korean guys? What would you do if there was no suitable partner in your country? And who can deny that that the institution of marriage is all about money anyway?

What bothers me most about this is the income gap, and possible exploitation that results from the arrangement. The obvious answer is that this arrangement is OK as long as the women go through these reputable companies and are insured a comfortable lifestyle. I predict that the effects won't be seen until this generation of mixed-race kids grows up in ultra-homogeneous Korea.

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