Till Death Do Us Part: Foreign Vietnamese Bride Killed in South Korea
Last month, South Korean Lim Chae Won stabbed his Vietnamese wife Hoang Thi Nam to death as their baby lay next to her. What’s being done to end the violence and protect these Vietnamese brides in foreign countries?
By Jennie Le on June 8, 2011 • Topics: Current Affairs,News,Women and Gender
Hoang Thi Nam, 23 was murdered by her Korean husband Lim Chae Won, 37.
Last month, a South Korean man named Lim Chae Won stabbed his Vietnamese wife Hoang Thi Nam to death as their baby lay next to her.
Last year, a mentally challenged Korean man murdered his Vietnamese wife after one week of marriage.
That same year, a Vietnamese bride, unable to communicate to anyone because she didn’t know Korean, ran away after being sexually assaulted multiple times by her Korean husband.
In 2008, a Vietnamese bride committed suicide due to her inability to assimilate into Korean culture and her feelings of stress and alienation thereof.
In 2007, a Vietnamese bride was found dead, beaten to death, in her Korean husband’s basement.
That same year, a Vietnamese bride tried to escape from the 9th floor of her Korean husband’s apartment complex but fell to her death after her makeshift rope tore apart.
News reports of abuse, murders, and suicides of Vietnamese brides in South Korea have been piling up for the last couple of years. Why has there been so little done by government officials? Cambodian government officials temporarily stopped the flow of foreign brides out of their country in 2008, and earlier this year, the Cambodian government placed a ban on foreign men over the age of 50 marrying local women (a move which many have contested as discriminatory). Is it time for Vietnam or South Korea to do something similar to protect potential brides from violence abroad?
Currently in South Korea, there are about 19,000 Vietnamese brides. Most of these women are married into families with unknown economic and medical backgrounds. As a result, many brides find themselves forced into poor households or wedded to husbands with serious mental or physical health issues. Social and economic problems follow brides long into marriage. According to government surveys, a Global Post article reports, 60% of multicultural families in South Korea are living in poverty, and only 26.5% of multiethnic children make it to high school. According to the article, “Mixed families struggle economically and multiethnic children don’t fare as well academically as fully Korean kids.”
So what changes should be made to the system?
On the brokerage end, better screening will help new brides enter a safe home without abuse and life threatening situations. Also, considering Korea’s homogeneous culture, the Korean government could do more to help brides assimilate into Korean culture and learn the language: “South Korea is turning a blind eye to its rapidly changing demographics and the obstacles of integration,” the Global Post article asserts. These changes would allow better facilitation of the foreign bride process. It’s clear that exploitation is not monitored, but doing so can ensure safety and easier assimilation. Attention to changing demographics can also open Korea up to unexpected but positive changes.
What are your thoughts on the foreign bride situation? Should we rally to a better system, or should be ban bride brokering entirely?
The Author: Jennie Le
Jennie Le is an alumna of UC Berkeley with degrees in Environmental Economics & Policy and Theater & Performance Studies. She is passionate about economic development and the arts in education.