More Relaxed Visa Requirements Reduce Paper Marriages

D-Bo , June 22, 2015, 8:41 a.m.


The number of transnational marriages has dwindled since Seoul eased visa restrictions on ethnic Koreans in China in 2007. That suggests that fewer people contract marriages of convenience for the chance to work in Korea. Numbers peaked in 2005 with 11,507 transnational marriages in Seoul, but last year that dropped to just over 5,000.



Statistical data from the Seoul Metropolitan Government show that marriages involving a Korean husband and Chinese bride fell from 6,177 in 2005 to 1,193 last year. And the number of transnational marriages involving a Chinese groom and Korean bride also plunged from 1,973 to 511.

It has become much easier for Chinese nationals of Korean descent to enter Korea without marrying a Korean national since the government introduced temporary work visas for such people in March 2007. The proportion of Chinese nationals in transnational marriages has declined in general. 

In 2005, Chinese spouses accounted for 70.8 percent of all transnational marriages in the capital, but that fell to just 33.2 percent last year. But Chinese nationals still made up the largest group of foreign women who married Korean men last year with 1,193, followed by Vietnamese with 493. 



Americans constituted the largest number of foreign men marrying Korean women (649) over the same period, followed by Chinese (511) and Japanese (231). Among foreign husbands, Chinese nationals were the majority from 2003 to 2012 but American men outpaced them since.

Last year, 5,133 transnational marriages took place in Seoul, the second-most in the country after Gyeonggi Province with 5,719. A Seoul city official said, "The common perception is that most transnational marriages involve Korean men living in the countryside who marry foreign brides, but in fact many more transnational marriages take place in urban areas." The capital city was home to the largest number of marriages between Korean women and foreign men last year. 

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