For better or for worse? South Korean men seek brides in Vietnam

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Some men and women decide to spend their lives together despite knowing from the outset that they have almost nothing in common. More and more South Korean men are finding their wives abroad, be it in Vietnam, China or Thailand. These multicultural partnerships are a response to a national crisis: South Korea’s low marriage rate. Our reporters travelled to Vietnam and South Korea to investigate.

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In South Korea, marriage is no longer an attractive prospect, especially for young women who now dream of independence. In 2023, only four percent of them considered marriage and children a must. In the past decade, the number of weddings in the country has fallen by 40 percent. Faced with this trend, many men are going abroad to get married.

Back in the 1980s, local governments had already started orchestrating multicultural marriages as a response to the gender imbalance in the countryside. Today, however, the practice has become popular in big cities, and is emerging as one of the solutions for repopulating South Korea.

The falling marriage rate is indeed leading to an alarming demographic crisis. With an average of just 0.78 children per woman, South Korea is the country with the lowest birth rate on the planet, something that threatens the very future of the country and its economic growth. Successive governments have been trying for decades to reverse the trend, but to no avail.

In South Korea, many single men in search of a wife are turning to Vietnam, using marriage agencies in their search for a soulmate. Over there, many young women dream of a better life in a South Korea, even if they don’t speak the language and only know the country through boy bands and hit TV series. 

Our reporters went to South Korea and Vietnam to investigate these marriages, which do not always end happily ever after.

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Source: Thanks france24