|Cita (rightmost side) with some Filipino women married to Korean men|
It is a reality that an increasing number of women are joining the stream of international migration whether it is a marriage or labor migration for better economic opportunities. Another contributing factor for the rapid increase of international marriage in Korea is the institutionalization of marriage brokers both local and overseas. Korean side brokers take Korean men to a pre-arranged overseas site where potential brides gather and it takes less than a week for the selection and simple wedding ceremony. Most of these women are from China and the Southeast Asian countries. As the number of multi-cultural families increase, the level of problems faced by foreign wives and their children has also gone up. Most of these problems are commercialization of broker-arranged marriages, domestic violence, conflicts with in-laws, discrimination against mixed-raced children, culture shock and language barriers.
While I help at the center’s ongoing programs that facilitate adjustment to culture, agricultural training and education, Korean cooking and language classes, child-rearing program, home visitations and other family activities, I was deeply touched by the stories of these young women, accepting the whirlwind marriage and moving from their own cultures as they settle to an unfamiliar environment. Their stories of everyday lives, struggles, failures, learnings, hopes and dreams as immigrant wives are very inspiring. Even if language barriers and cultural differences oftentimes cause friction and conflict in marriage, they make an effort to speak for themselves without fighting but by negotiation. Even if the stereotyping belief of some family and the husband himself that these women were purchased for marriage, they prove themselves to be strong and they assert their cultural identity as immigrant wives and rights equal to a Korean.