Those marrying foreigners, mainly from other Asian countries, will be obliged to take a mandatory three-hour class on the culture of the would-be spouses’ countries, according to the Ministry of Justice, Monday.
This is part of measures to lessen problems in interracial marriage resulting from a lack of understanding of each other’s background. Civic groups, however, say the three-hour education will not be particularly effective, calling for a more comprehensive solution.
According to the revised regulations taking effect at the end of the month or early February, Koreans who are to marry foreigners must take the class on the culture and customs of the future spouses’ countries.
The affected countries are Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Thailand.
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If the Korean partner does not take the obligatory education, the authorities will not issue an F-2 residence visa to the immigrant spouse.
There is an exception: If a Korean stays in a foreign country for over 45 days, dates a native there and decides to marry him or her, the Korean will not have to take the program. Also, if a foreigner stays here for over 90 days, dates a Korean and decides to tie the knot, the Korean is also exempted from the mandatory education.
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Civic groups for migrant women are skeptical of the program, doubting how many Korean men will take the education seriously and sincerely.. . .
“The nation should change the interracial marriage system by monitoring matchmaking firms and cracking down on companies that commit illegal acts. The government should also come up with comprehensive measures, as even 30 hours of education is not enough,”Kim [Jun-gu at the Daejeon Migrant Women Rights Center]said.
South Korea has been using young women from poorer Southeast Asian countries to repopulate its countryside---and Arirang says the number is as high as 40% of couples in rural areas---with the resultant abuse, neglect, and unhappiness being well-documented in the media. Last March Cambodia put a halt to the bride trade with South Korea by temporarily banning marriages between Cambodian women and South Korean men. The ban was lifted a month later, though officials and ordinary people both in South Korea and overseas are obviously aware of the nefarious nature of some of these matchmaking services.
On Saturday the Dong-a Ilbo wrote of other measures that will affect international couples and their children.
Permanent resident status will go to foreign nationals married to Koreans before the former apply for Korean citizenship to prevent abuse of marriage immigration and allow such immigrants to comfortably settle in Korea.. . .
Foreign nationals married to Koreans can apply for citizenship if they reside in Korea for two years under the F-2 spousal visa. Because two to three years of residence is required to obtain Korean citizenship after applying for naturalization, foreign nationals need four to five years to get citizenship after tying the knot with Koreans.
The Justice Ministry plans to grant permanent residency under the F-5 visa to foreign spouses instead of eliminating the F-2 residency status or reducing the period to about a year. The revision will be introduced to the National Assembly in March.
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Permanent residents are entitled to the same welfare benefits as citizens but are limited in suffrage. Around 130,000 marriage immigrants live in Korea with the F-2 visa.
The government from this year will also cover all kindergarten fees for some 28,000 children from multicultural families. Assistance for living expenses and education fees will also be raised for marriage immigrants who raise young children but have yet to acquire Korean citizenship.
Marriage immigrants in farming areas will be eligible for agricultural training.
And according to a National Human Rights Commission of Korea ruling last week,
street banners advertizing marriage to women from other countries treated them as merchandise and was a violation of their human rights.
It demanded the mayor of Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, remove the banners immediately from the city-managed advertizing zone. The commission also advised it to come up with measures to prevent such advertisements from being put up in public again and give supervising civil servants courses on human rights.
In July last year, a 45-year-old man, identified only by his surname Jang, filed a petition with the commission, complaining that about 30 street banners set up by a marriage agency across the city discriminated against foreign women on grounds of gender and race.
The banner read: “Blowout sale for 9.8 million won for men wanting to marry Vietnamese women on the commemoration of Korea’s advance into the second round of the World Cup.”
“The banners contain “money-for-marriage” expressions that anyone with money can marry Vietnamese women. They imply that women with certain nationalities can be bought and sold as merchandise. This may create racial prejudice against these women in our society,” the commission said.
A sign in Jeonju saying Vietnamese women won't run away.
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