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N. Levi: International marriages in South Korea

Korea is one of the few countries (along with Poland) which has been ethnically homogenous. Since the end of the 80s, an expanding number of foreign workers led to an increase of social tensions in South Korea.  As an answer, South Korea adopted a “multiculturalism” statement in 2006. The aim was to manage a growing foreign population and promote internal cohesion.  The Korean Peninsula has been a homogeneous society until the end of the Second World War. After South Korea achieved independence from Japan in 1945, the US Army stayed in Korea (by setting military bases) and many South Korean women worked as sex-workers. About 11 000 children (they are called honyeol) were born from these affairs. Due to a patriarchal society, these children (and their mother) were highly discriminated by the South Korean society. All of them faced huge discrimination on the labor market and in their social interactions. There is also a racial hierarchy in terms of skin color. South Korean sex workers who performed their jobs with Black people were considered as inferior to White military-men.

źródło: commons.wikimedia.org

źródło: commons.wikimedia.org

As of today, the mixed population of South Korea continues to increase. International marriages are taking part not only in cities but also in rural areas. Korean men tend to get married with women from China, Vietnam and Philippines. Korean women preferred partners from western countries and Pakistan. According to the South Korean National Statistics Office (http://kostat.go.kr), in 2009 (last available statistics) 25 142 men married a foreign woman and 8 158 women married a foreign man.

The South Korean women find an image of ideal men in westerners however they are getting married especially for financial reasons. It should be also noted that South Korean women are fascinated by the western way of life[1]. Regarding men, those who are poor and may have less to offer to South Korean women are more often forced to choose women from abroad.

South Korean society is changing at a slow but regular speed despite traditional attitude of the older generation of Koreans. The evolution of the marriages represents a dynamic process of the trans-culturation of the South Korean society.



[1] Regarding this topic, I strongly advise to read the paper of Kim Chong Min entitled Changing Patterns of Consumption Culture: a diachronic sketch focusing on the Korean Economic Development Period. A text prepared for the 8th  Worldwide Consortium of Korean Studies Centers Workshop held in Seoul on the 4th July 2012.

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N. Levi: International marriages in South Korea Reviewed by on 11 kwietnia 2014 .

Korea is one of the few countries (along with Poland) which has been ethnically homogenous. Since the end of the 80s, an expanding number of foreign workers led to an increase of social tensions in South Korea.  As an answer, South Korea adopted a “multiculturalism” statement in 2006. The aim was to manage a growing

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  • Along with Poland.. and CHINA of course. 99,999999& of population consists of Han Chinese. What do you think? „South Korea adopted a “multiculturalism” statement in 2006” lol, China has never adopted any of such ideas… so please, don’t tell me about backwardness of a democratic country when few meters away lies communistic collosus which claims „There is no rasism in China, because we have no foreigners (sic!).”

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