Recently, the Guardian reported that South Korea approved legislation to prohibit men with a criminal record of domestic violence from inviting foreign women to the country for marriage:
The ministry said the change was prompted by national outcry over footage that emerged in July showing a 36-year-old South Korean man physically and verbally assaulting his Vietnamese wife in front of their young child.
Footage of the assault, which occurred in the south-western county of Yeongam, shows the man slapping and kicking his wife and then repeatedly punching her in the head in front of their young child. “Didn’t I tell you that you are not in Vietnam,” he shouts.
And while that incident may have sparked the new law, here’s what researchers discovered in the country:
In 2018 a study by the National Human Rights Commission found that of 920 foreign wives in South Korea, 42% had suffered domestic violence, while 68% had experienced unwanted sexual advances.
Activists say that while a high proportion of migrant wives experience abuse, few report their cases to the police.
I found this story fascinating as a foreign woman married to a man from China, a neighbor to South Korea. While China has yet to draft any laws explicitly banning men with a criminal record on domestic violence from taking a foreign spouse, domestic violence in China had in recent years made headlines as well, thanks to a certain foreign woman.
Remember the case of Kim Lee, a white American woman battered by her Chinese husband Li Yang (who had enjoyed celebrity status in China over his popular “Crazy English” series)? Her Weibo photos revealing everything from a badly bruised forehead to a bloodied ear thrust her into the public spotlight. Eventually, she won a landmark divorce case in China that granted her the right to leave her husband over domestic violence. Her fight also sparked the passage of China’s first law prohibiting domestic violence.
I hope the new law in South Korea will serve as an important step forward as it shines a light on a vulnerable group of women.
What do you think about South Korea banning men with a history of domestic abuse from marrying foreign women?