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Published:March 25th, 2010 12:56 EST
Cambodian Government Bans Marriage with Koreans

Cambodian Government Bans Marriage with Koreans

By Geoff Dean


According to a report in the Korea Times, 60% of Cambodian women who are involved in international marriages are married to Korean men. For Korean men, Cambodian wives rank fourth behind Chinese, Japanese, and Filipina ones in the international marriage department. What is it about Cambodian women and Korean men? Kim-chee? They do not share a common language or culture or history. For the most part, there is a significant gap in religion as well, even in the increasingly rare case that both might be Buddhist. Are Korean men especially attractive to Cambodian women and vice versa?

 The government of Cambodia sure doesn`t think so.

 According to Cambodian government spokesperson, Koy Kuung, there has been put in place an immediate, "temporary" ban on Cambodian-Korean marriages. He claims that many of these marriages are arranged by brokers who basically "sell" Cambodian brides to Korean males, often against the brides-to-be`s wills. The ban will remain in place until it can be determined that the couples are "real, not fake, and not involved with human trafficking". A noble aim but I wonder how they can do that! If someone challenged your marriage as "fake", could you prove conclusively that it was not?

 Also, Korean males will be required to prove that they are single (not unreasonable, I suppose) and have no prison record (I`m not as sure about this one; can`t a reformed ex-con marry the Cambodian woman of his choice?)

 This comes on the heels of the March 3rd arrest of a Cambodian matchmaker accused of "selling" up to 22 brides to Koreans, including online auction style. Before that, a Korean national, Lee Kyung Jun, was arrested in Phnom Pehn in May of 2009 for forging marriage certificates and other official Korean documents. Many of the Cambodian women "married off" never actually met their Korean "husbands" and instead were sent into the Korean criminal underground to work as bar hostesses and prostitues and the like.

 The wave of Cambodian-Korean marriages has replaced a similar wave of Vietnamese-Korean marriages a few years back, which came to halt when Vietnam passed a similar ban and launched a crackdown on brokers and "illegitimate matchmakers", reported the EarthTimes.

 Don`t get me wrong, please. I oppose human trafficking absolutely. I would never make light of it, as I know a few women in Japan (Chinese, Thai, and even, Korean) who got here in much a similar way and have heard how hard it was for them. At the same time, international marriage can often represent a lifeline for a woman and her family that otherwise would not exist. Is a total ban the best reaction?

 Furthermore, there must be some legitimate Cambodian-Korean marriages among the falsity. Should loving international couples be punished for the misdeeds of others? Denied the right to get married?

 And if the goal is to prevent "fake marriages", why limit the search to only Koreans? They may be the most egregious violators but surely not the only ones.

 And one more question. Will Cambodian women be allowed to marry North Korean men?