Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pay close attention to your foreign wife owner's manual.

You probably read about the story of an 18-year-old Cambodian mail-order bride arrested for attempted murder for stabbing her abusive 38-year-old Korean husband. Korea Beat has an update today which opens with an attempt to find a cultural source for this incident.
“Cambodian people will think a person is rude for touching their heads. We do not know if that was the reason that 18-year old Mrs. Choun (pseudonym) stabbed her husband after marrying him from Cambodia.”
Some Southeast Asian cultures do object to touching on the head, so exercise some caution in that regard. One of the things that sticks in my mind from a college course on cross-cultural communication was etiquette regarding the head and feet in neighboring Thailand. As for Cambodians, do remember not to touch them on the head, especially with a closed fist, an elbow, or a foreign object. Their culture interprets that as inappropriate, and crosscultural communication breakdown may occur.

12 comments:

Samuel said...

I don't buy it. How about she just stabbed him for beating the shit out of her?

kushibo said...

Unless the woman herself has said that her husband touching or hitting her head was what triggered her stabbing him at that moment, I think this explanation is a bit irrelevant. As much as if he had spoken to her in panmal.

She was being beaten and she'd had enough. Maybe she even feared for her life. End of story.

nb said...

The Khmer girl had probably heard the story of the Vietnamese woman who had a plane ticket to go back home and was probably thrown off the apartment building by the bastard who was repeatedly beating her. Sic semper tyrannus.

Nik Trapani said...

If a 38 year old man marries an 18 year old girl from an underdeveloped country, I think it should be ok for her to stab him. Just a little bit though.

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I dunno . . . but where I come from, stabbing is considered impolite. Pretty darn rude, in fact. But I won't judge another person's culture.

Jeffery Hodges

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Korean Rum Diary said...

It's just another case of Koreans defending Koreans for being violent and moronic. It happens everyday, and today it's just a little worse than usual.

kushibo said...

It's just another case of Koreans defending Koreans for being violent and moronic. It happens everyday, and today it's just a little worse than usual.

What Koreans are defending which Korean?

kushibo said...

If a 38 year old man marries an 18 year old girl from an underdeveloped country, I think it should be ok for her to stab him. Just a little bit though.

In Korea and in most or all of the countries where these women are coming from, marriage has been about meeting financial needs and/or social obligations (including having kids).

I am in no way defending spousal abuse, but for non-abusive relationships, of which some of these 男38/女18 are, what is the problem?

Both the man and the woman want to have children, and a younger woman is certainly more likely to produce children than someone the same age as the 38-year-old farmer. The woman and/or her family seek this situation for financial security as well, and despite relatively low earnings for these rural men, they are able to provide this to the women. The improvement in the lives of the families "back home" is documented and real.

One might ask what conditions led an 18-year-old woman to seek marriage to someone in another country, but the 38-year-old or even 48-year-old rural Korean man did not create that situation any more than he created the situation where 20- or 30-something Korean women generally won't have anything to do with him.

Focus on the problems and resolve them. Make sure (as NGOs and the government are doing) that women have access to proper resources in their own language. Work to make sure that the police are properly dealing with cases where these women are abused. Maybe even put together a fund to defend women like this one who stabbed her husband, if it was self-defense.

But if you get into some blanket condemnation of all marriages in a certain category like a May-December nuptial, it smacks of the same type of thing where xenophobes might look at the type of marriage many "foreigners" in Korea are engaged in... with similar categorical condemnations that are just as bogus when applied across the board.

nb said...

Kushibo, your apologist position is just wrong. The NGOs and government are not going to provide sufficiaent resources and if the woman calls the police, they will probably just hang up as she doesnt speak Korean. Lets suppose a Korean neighbor calls the police for her. The Korean police will try to dissuade the foreign woman (or Korean woman for that matter) from filing a complaint. So what? So your point is that the Korean men are using the Foreign women to get babies and have sex and the Foreign women get to help out their families? Is this an even trade when violence and shitty behavior towards the woman by the husband and his family? What needs to be done is have stories written by women from that country available to women before they get into a situation which IS going to make them miserable.

kushibo said...

nb wrote:
Kushibo, your apologist position is just wrong. The NGOs and government are not going to provide sufficiaent resources and if the woman calls the police, they will probably just hang up as she doesnt speak Korean. Lets suppose a Korean neighbor calls the police for her. The Korean police will try to dissuade the foreign woman (or Korean woman for that matter) from filing a complaint.

nb, if I were in Korea right now, I'd walk down the street from my house and write down the number of the NGO-run women's hotline that keeps getting broadcast in Vietnamese, Chinese, English (?), Russian, etc. Then I'd give them a call and see if they actually hang up on people who call in those languages, since they go through all that trouble to advertise in front of everybody.

I think you're right about the police in many if not most neighborhoods. Police in general are not well trained to deal with spousal abuse or people who don't speak Korean well or at all, so combine the two and you get an extra dose of ineptitude or indifference.

That's something that's got to change, and I happen to know people in NGOs and in reasonably high positions of government who are sympathetic and are trying to do something about it.

kushibo said...

nb wrote:
So your point is that the Korean men are using the Foreign women to get babies and have sex and the Foreign women get to help out their families? Is this an even trade when violence and shitty behavior towards the woman by the husband and his family?

I'm not defending violent relationships. That's inexcusable.

Plenty of these marriages, though, are no more violent or abusive than marriages between two domestic people in Korea or the other countries involved. When I said "but for non-abusive relationships," I was specifically referring to "non-abusive relationships."

As for the non-abusive relationships that originate from these international arrangements, I don't really have a problem with that. It is largely a win-win for groups of people who (a) have arranged marriage for personal or family gain as a dominant norm, and (b) provides greater utility for each party than if each party tried to marry locally.

What needs to be done is have stories written by women from that country available to women before they get into a situation which IS going to make them miserable.

They do. They're called newspapers. Chinese and Vietnamese newspapers have been warning women in their respective countries to be level-headed and informed about the potential pitfalls of these marriages since the early or mid 1990s.

I'm not as certain about Cambodia or the Philippines, however.

nb said...

Kushibo,
I said if she calls the police, they will hang up. What is a NGO-run women's hotline going to do when ajosshi is beating her ass?

Kushibo wrote: "Plenty of these marriages, though, are no more violent or abusive than marriages between two domestic people in Korea..."

Seriously dude...you cant back that up. These are low class and lower class Koreans with poor education and ignorant extended familes. A wide generalization that I am sure is rather correct.

Kushibo writes:"...and I happen to know people in NGOs and in reasonably high positions of government who are sympathetic and are trying to do something about it."

The former cannot do anything to ameliorate the problem and a few people in high places are not going to get the 99.9% of government employees who could help to give a shit.

You and I basically agree on this point. The real point I want to make is that a marriage btween a korean man and a korean woman is a 75%/25% relationship. The SE Asian bridge is just a piece of chattel.