Last year over a fifth of South Korean farmers and fishermen who tied the knot did so with a foreigner...Not long ago placards in the provinces sang the praises of Vietnamese wives “who never run away”. Now, on the Seoul subway, banners encourage acceptance of multicultural families.
They are expected to exceed 1.5m by 2020, in a population of 50m. That is remarkable for a country that has long prided itself on its ethnic uniformity. But a preference for sons has led to a serious imbalance of the sexes. In 2010 half of all middle-aged men in South Korea were single, a fivefold increase since 1995. The birth rate has fallen to 1.3 children per woman of childbearing age, down from six in 1960. It is one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. Without immigration, the country’s labour force will shrink drastically.
The government likes the idea of foreign brides as a substitute for no brides at all, although there is also a concern that the brides need to acculturate:
The government is now tightening up the marriage rules. Last month two new requirements came into force: a foreign bride must speak Korean, and a Korean groom must support her financially. Koreans are now limited to a single marriage-visa request every five years.
The main concern, of course, is that the children of these unions will be discriminated against as they grow older. Still, the article seems to suggest that there is growing acceptance of multicultural families in Korea, and that has to be a good thing.