A brutal murder in North Gyeongsang again points out the dangers and risks that are still prevalent in international marriages in Korea.
According to regional police, a 37-year-old man surnamed Lim stabbed his 23-year-old Vietnamese wife, identified as Hwang, multiple times with a knife, killing her at about 1 a.m. yesterday. Afterward, Lim left his home, shouting, “I have killed someone!”
Hwang gave birth to a boy just 19 days prior.
Upon hearing Lim’s cries, neighbors called the police, who said they found Lim wandering near his one-room apartment with the murder weapon in hand. After entering the apartment, the police found Hwang’s body lying in a pool of blood with her infant son crying beside her.
Police said Lim testified that he argued with his wife often since their marriage in April 2010 and that they had fought before he killed her yesterday.
The murder echoed a similar killing 10 months ago when a man with a history of mental illness killed his 20-year-old Vietnamese bride eight days after their marriage. The man, surnamed Chang, was sentenced to 12 years in prison last year.
After that murder, the Korean government adopted new precautions for international brides who mostly come from Southeast Asia to find Korean husbands. According to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, a health exam is mandatory for prospective brides and grooms.
“Last year when we were drawing up a new policy for international marriages, there was discussion of including [in the clauses] mental health history, including treatment,” said a ministry official. “That plan fell through due to complications.”
The official said that it was the ministry’s duty to protect women in international marriages and that it is looking into the situation.
By Christine Kim [firstname.lastname@example.org]
A South Korean man killed his Vietnamese wife on May 24, in Jeongto District of North Kyeongsang Province. The Vietnamese women just had a baby for 19 days.
The murder occurred at 1.10 am (local time). The husband, named Lim Chae Won, 37, was immediately arrested.
Lim admitted to police that he stabbed Hoang when she was attempting to leave the house with their 19-month-old son. He said Hoang had asked for a divorce many times after moving to South Korea with him in August 2010.
The Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea has identified the Vietnamese woman as Hoang Thi Nam, 23, from Thang Hai Commune, in Binh Thuan Province’s Phan Thiet City.
An autopsy result showed that Nam was stabbed 53 times and died on the spot.
Nam had married Lim Chae Won, 37, in April and moved to South Korea in August 2010.
A neighbor called the police after hearing Lim kick a neighbor’s door and shout that he had killed a person. When officers arrived at Lim’s house, they found the couple’s 19-day-old baby lying next to his bleeding mother and his father outside the house with a knife in hand.
Nam reportedly lived in Simthow, a center for ill-treated foreign brides, from October 5 to November 22 last year before Lim came and took her home.
Two South Korean senior officials visited the Vietnamese embassy on May 24 afternoon to express their sympathy. The said local officials would keep their Vietnamese counterparts fully informed about any developments in the case.
The police were investigating further.
In July 2010, a mentally challenged man killed another Vietnamese mail order bride, Thach Thi Hoang Ngoc, one week after her arrival to Korea. Notably, Ngoc could not speak Korean and he did not know that her husband was a mental patient. Five days before coming to Vietnam to met Ngoc, the Korean husband was hospitalized.
This man was sentenced 12 years in jail by the Pusan City court in October 2010. He will be treated in prison and will have to wear a control electronic bracelet for the next ten years.
South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak in a speech on the radio apologized and offered his condolences to the family of Thach Thi Hong Ngoc.
In South Korea, out of ten rural men, four get married with foreign women. The South Korean government has recently tightened control over match-making companies and opened pre-marriage education centers for those who plan to marry foreign people.
South Korean man kills Vietnamese wife: police
SEOUL, May 24, 2011 (AFP) – A South Korean man killed his Vietnamese wife early Tuesday, police said, less than a year after a similar tragedy prompted curbs on international matchmakers.
The 23-year-old, identified only by her surname Hoang, was stabbed by her husband at their home at Cheongdo in the southeast of the country, officers in the rural town told AFP.
The 37-year-old husband, identified only by his surname Im, was quoted as telling police that he stabbed his wife during an argument. Police said they would seek a formal warrant to arrest him for murder.
In July last year a 20-year-old Vietnamese woman was killed by her schizophrenic South Korean husband just eight days after she arrived in the country to join him.
The Seoul government apologised to her family and paid compensation, and announced tougher rules for matchmakers arranging foreign marriages. The husband was jailed for 12 years.
More than a third of South Korean fishermen and farmers who married in 2009 chose immigrant brides, some because they were unable to find local women prepared to lead a rural lifestyle.
The couple in Tuesday’s incident had married in April last year and recently had a son, police said. The 19-day-old baby was found crying next to his bleeding mother when police arrived at the home.
South Korean embassy staff in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi held an emergency meeting to determine details of the incident, an embassy official there told Yonhap news agency.
Vietnamese Bride Murdered For Looking For Korean Dream
Young and poor, the Vietnamese woman jumped at the chance to marry a South Korean introduced to her through a matchmaking agency.
Eight days after moving to South Korea, 20-year-old Thach Thi Hoang Ngoc was beaten and stabbed to death by her 47-year-old husband, who police said confessed that “voices” ordered him to kill his young bride. She was never told about his mental illness, police said.
Her death in early July has drawn attention to the growing trend of South Korean men looking overseas for brides and the lack of protection provided for the women who marry them in hopes of a better life.
“‘I will live happily’ were the last words (Ngoc) said to her father when she phoned home,” President Lee Myung-bak said Monday, making her death the focus of his weekly address to the nation. “I am truly saddened and feel much regret. I pray for her soul and offer my deepest sympathy to her family.”
Lee urged South Koreans to welcome the growing population of foreigners, noting that 40 percent of the women married to men in South Korea’s farming and fishing communities come from nations such as Vietnam, the Philippines and China.
He promised that the government would take action to better support multicultural families and to monitor and regulate international matchmaking agencies.
South Korean police also announced that they would begin investigating matchmaking agencies suspected of operating illegally. And, starting in August, new requirements for South Koreans seeking to bring foreign wives into the country will take effect, government officials said.
Over the past decade, a growing number of South Korean men, particularly from farming villages with dwindling populations, have been looking overseas for wives, said Heo Young-sug, an activist at the Women Migrants Human Rights centre in Seoul.
They pay an average of $9,900 to brokers to connect them with young women looking for economic security, mostly from Southeast Asia and China, Heo said.
“International marriages are in a way a practical intersection of interests, bringing together South Korean bachelors and foreign women who suffer from poverty and have a romanticised notion of a prosperous life in an industrialised country like South Korea,” Heo said.
In 2009, 180,000 foreigners were married to South Koreans, including more than 35,000 Vietnamese women, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security said.
Many met their spouses through the estimated 1,250 marriage brokers or matchmakers who arrange an estimated 15,000 marriages each year between South Korean men and foreign women, mostly from Southeast Asia, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said.
However, some brokers are less interested in the couples’ well-being than in making money, Heo said.
Some agencies even engage in human trafficking under the guise of matchmaking, charging a higher price for virgins or those with “great domestic skills,” said Song Ji-eun, an official at the Ministry of Gender Equality.
Concerned about the practice, Cambodia earlier this year briefly banned its citizens from marrying South Korean men, Song said.
Ngoc, who left her home in southwestern Vietnam to help earn money for her family, met her husband through a South Korean matchmaking agency, married him in Vietnam in February and then flew with him to South Korea in July.
She was never told about her husband’s history of schizophrenia, or the 57 times he had been hospitalised since 2005, police in the southern city of Busan said. He was only identified by his surname, Jang.
“It’s illegal for the broker to have not given the victim and her family correct information about who and what kind of a person Jang is,” officer Kim Jong-hun of Busan police said.
Last week, the National Police Agency began investigating illegal matchmaking activities, including giving foreign clients falsified or inaccurate medical and criminal information about prospective South Korean grooms.
Starting in November, brokers will face a fine and a ban from the matchmaking business if caught breaking the law, said Kim Joong-yeol of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
The government also said it would better regulate prospective marriages by ordering thorough checks of applicants’ medical, criminal, and financial backgrounds, and South Koreans applying for a foreign marriage visa will be required to take a class on international marriages administered by the Korean Immigration Service.
President Lee said he was aware the government had to do more to take care of its multicultural families. He vowed to fulfill a promise he made to Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen in October to “treat immigrant spouses from Cambodia living in South Korea as if they were my own daughters-in-law.”
“Let us all make sure that we broaden our hearts and wholeheartedly welcome the people and culture coming from the outside,” he said. “When we continue to endeavor in this way, we will be able to build up a country where people from all over the world can realise their Korean dream.”