Multicultural 'Deceit' in Korea?
Some cultures would destroy this statue . . .
I read a disturbing article in yesterday's JoongAng Daily about cases of migrant workers in Korea deceiving Korean women into marriages of convenience. This is the sort of thing one ought to expect, but according to Yim Seung-hye in "Woman recalls deceit in migrant marriage" (February 23, 2012), the women are naively taken advantage of in many 'multicultural' marriages involving a particular subgroup of migrant workers:
As the number of international marriages continues to rise, there is no shortage of stories painting multiculturalism in a positive light. But one such marriage has left a woman fighting for custody of her son in a trend of marital deception that appears to be growing.The most disturbing point is that this sort of deceitful marriage has happened to thousands of women. I wish some statistics had been provided, but if the reference to "an Internet group with thousands of members" is accurate, then this may be a huge problem indeed, for this internet group could be just the tip of a very large iceberg. Most of the stories that we read in the papers about so-called 'multicultural' marriages focus on Korean men marrying foreign women, and if those marriages fail to work out, blame often gets placed on the Korean husbands or the Korean in-laws, but the focus in most articles is on successful marriages and on how Koreans need to change and be more open to foreign ways. That message has its downside, as Ms. Oh's case shows:
The woman, who asked to be identified only as Oh, 38, is part of an Internet group with thousands of members who have suffered as a result of marriages with Pakistani and Bangladeshi men. The Korean women writing there have shared stories of being tricked into marriages with migrant workers from the two countries as well as verbal and physical abuse.
"There are so many women who have similar stories as mine. Most of us were hesitant to marry a migrant worker, but all of the TV shows and news stories beautifying multiculturalism and the stories of multicultural families living happily in Korea comforted us," Oh said. "But now, all of us are suffering from broken marriages. I just don't want to see any more victims like myself."My advice to Korean women considering marriage to foreigners is twofold: Get to know the man well first and also get to know the man's culture. Don't depend only on what he says. Read about his home country and the treatment of women there. Find out what his religion teaches about the treatment of women. Don't rely on sources with an interest in painting a rosy picture of other cultures. Look for the dirt that's being swept under the rug. Turn over a few stones and see what turns up. Think hard about the future with a foreigner. For instance, consider what might happen if you did marry a foreigner and had children with him. Could you be certain that on a visit to his home country, your children could not be taken from you by your in-laws? That could happen in some countries where the husband has the legal control over his children.
This advice is sound no matter what the statistics concerning cases such as that of Ms. Oh.
UPDATE: Readers in comments have expressed skepticism about the prevalence of such cases, a point on which I also had questions, but my doubts were very carefully couched, so I've now added a question mark to this blog entry's heading to indicate that I have lingering questions.