International marriages hit 11-year low in Korea

July 2, 2014

According to the data by Statistics Korea, the number of Koreans tying the knot with foreigners came to 25,963 last year, down from 28,325 a year earlier.

According to the data by Statistics Korea, the number of Koreans tying the knot with foreigners came to 25,963 last year, down from 28,325 a year earlier.

The figure marked the lowest since 2003 when 24,775 Koreans formed families with foreign spouses, the data showed.

International marriages accounted for 8 percent of newlyweds last year. This marked the lowest since 2002 when the rate stood at 5 percent.

“The decline is attributed to the government’s efforts to intensify its monitoring on unlicensed and unqualified marriage agencies that have been springing up, causing such problems as an increase of immigrants who use marriages as a means to enter this country,” a Statistics Korea official told Yonhap.

Since 2010, government ministries and agencies have been applying stricter qualifications for marriage agencies, including more paid-in capital requirement.

The statistics agency has been providing such data since 1993 when the number of marriages between Koreans and foreigners stood at 6,545, or 1.6 percent, of newlyweds at the time.

The figure peaked in 2005 when 42,356 Korean-foreigner couples got married, which accounted for 13.5 percent of the total, the data showed.

As the number rose, there were reports about domestic violence and fraud involving unqualified agencies that arranged marriages between Korean male farmers and foreign women.

“It is not abnormal to see the number of international marriages decline in recent years, and it seems to be a step toward normalization following a spike driven by many unlicensed marriage agencies,” the official said. “The number is expected to keep its downward trend in the years to come.”

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