South Korea Bans Abusive Men from Marrying Foreign Women

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?

Guest Post: 4 Things That Helped Me Adapt to South Korea

Linda Dunsmore, who blogs at Linda Goes East, never expected to end up in South Korea with a Korean fiancé. She told us all about it in her previous guest post, “Am I in the ‘Wrong’ AMWF Relationship?” How a Woman Who Loved China Fell for a Korean man.

But it’s not always easy to transition to a new country. After all, as Linda writes, “Before I met Jeongsu, the only thing I knew about Korea was that its capital is Seoul. I hadn’t even tried Korean food.” I asked Linda to share some of her tips for a smooth transition to life in South Korea – read on!

Do you have some advice, a story or other guest post you’d like to see featured on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn more about what I like to publish and then submit yours today.

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habok33I’ve always been interested in Asia and its different cultures and nations. China had especially caught my eye and I decided to study Mandarin and even move to China – which I did and it was awesome. Then, I went to California to get my bachelor’s degree, with a plan in mind to move back to China – maybe even for good.

However, something, and I like to argue it were higher powers, had completely changed my path. Actually it wasn’t something but much rather someone. While studying in San Diego, I met a handsome Korean exchange student who instantly caught my eye. We quickly started dating and he is now my fiancé.

After graduating, I did, in fact, move back to China, were I stayed for a year in Hunan’s capital of Changsha. I got to travel the country and experience the local culture to a great extent. However, I wasn’t fully happy there. Being in a long distance relationship was hard and after 1 year in China, I decided to make the big move to South Korea.

Before I met Jeongsu, the only thing I knew about Korea was that its capital is Seoul. I hadn’t even tried Korean food. However, all of this quickly changed and is now a big part of my life. I would like to share some of the strategies that helped ease my transition into living in South Korea.

#1: Learn the Language

Soon after I met Jeongsu, I started learning Korean. I’m by far not fluent but the basics help me fit in the daily life here and make it a lot easier to live here. I signed up at the local YMCA and took a Korean course with other foreigners. The good thing was that I met other foreigners – some of which also have Korean partners.

#2: Eat local food

Food is a key part of every culture. It seems like Korea even takes it to a new level, having a certain set of side dishes for every meal. I remember the first time I saw “kimchi” (the most popular Korean side dish) in Jeongsu’s fridge back in San Diego. “I’m never going to eat that!” I screamed because of the foul smell. Now, I love it and eat it with almost every meal.

12417911_1203788122969275_6374892348853201382_n#3: Do as the Koreans Do

Koreans work a lot, but also take their free time seriously and love hanging out with friends. Drinking, karaoke or even Korean traditional sauna include only few of the dozens of things Korean take on in their free time. You should also be aware of the strict hierarchy here in Korea. When you treat people older than you in a polite way, you’re going to be much more successful living here.

#4: Make local Friends

Obviously, the reason why I moved to Korea was to be with Jeongsu. Having him here helps me a lot since he can support me when I have problems of communication and he explains cultural differences to me. However, even if you move to Korea alone, you should definitely make Korean friends. You’re Korea experience is going to be so much deeper when you have a chance to see how locals really live.

What are you waiting for?

If you are thinking about moving to South Korea, don’t hesitate too long! It’s a wonderful country to fall in love with. I didn’t know a lot about Korea before moving here but now I am astounded by the country’s vast history and culture. Korean BBQ, KPOP, awesome skincare products and loads of themed cafes are waiting for you here!

NEU8Linda writes about life in Korea, her AMWF relationship with a Korean man, traveling around Asia and studying Asian languages at www.lindagoeseast.com . She is also very active on social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts and love stories! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Raising Mixed Culture Kids in a Multicultural Environment

Leslie, the white Canadian woman who is also the author of the delicious blog Korea in my Kitchen, is married to a Korean man and raising her beautiful multicultural family in one of my favorite cities in the world — Vancouver, Canada. In this lovely guest post, she comments on the benefits and challenges of raising kids in a multicultural environment (and also shares some of her fantastic recipes, including one for my favorite Korean dish, bibimbap!). 

Would you like to see your words featured on Speaking of China? We’re always looking for awesome guest posts — check out the submit a post page to learn how you can have yours published here!

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“Mom, why are they looking at us?”

The biggest culture shock for my four kids this past year when we went to Korea to visit my husband’s family was that people noticed them. Old people would rub their heads at the stop light, or touch their cheeks as they passed by. People constantly commented and touched them. We think all our mixed kids look very Korean; apparently, not to Koreans. 🙂

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In Korea with their grandmother, Halmoni

We are fortunate to live in Vancouver, Canada, a very multicultural city with people from all over the world. When we are out and about, people don’t notice us as a mixed family. It was one of the things that struck my husband and me the most when we originally came back from Korea where we were used to being noticed all the time. We loved how we were just normal.

If people comment on the kids it is usually just out of curiosity or kindness. We don’t get any negative comments. Some comments are awkward, but not rude.

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When people do ask, I get the usual questions:

“What is your husband’s nationality?”

“Where is your husband from?”

I have even had people ask me,

“Where did you adopt your kids from?”

Honestly, the most common thing people say is,

“Oh, your kids are cute!”

To which I smile and say thank you.

One of the challenges raising mixed kids in such a culturally diverse place is that they lose touch with their own culture. My husband immigrated to Canada from Korea when he was thirty. He is very Korean; he is Korean-Korean. But because we are so normal here in Vancouver, it would be easy to let go of his culture and raise our family simply as Canadian. As the mother, I have had the opportunity to spend lots of time with the children in their early formative years. Unfortunately, my Korean is not very strong and we need to make a consorted effort to teach them Korean; it is called a mother tongue for a reason. Likewise, I love to cook and culture is very much tied to food. Luckily, I really enjoy cooking Korean food and we eat it often. So the difficulty we face, actually is to retain culture and for our children to know and appreciate their ‘Korean-ness’.

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Nyles’ first birthday – Dol

As a result, in our family, we celebrate our collage of cultures. We embrace Korean culture and nationality. We eat Korean food, celebrate the holidays and stumble through learning the language. The kids save up money to go back to Korea to see their grandmother and beg to watch Korean dramas. For dinner, bibimbap and kimbap are the most requested menu items!

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My parents are immigrants from Holland and I grew up in a Dutch Canadian community. Likewise, we have our little Dutch cultural things that we hold on to, certain foods and expressions and I try to pass those on to the kids too. They proudly wear their Holland shirts and gobble down ‘double zout droppies’, those really salty Dutch black licorice.

And of course, our children are Canadian. They proudly sing the national anthem and wave the maple leaf on July 1st. Here, in this country where they celebrate being a cultural mosaic, we get to pick and choose the best parts of all three cultures.

Ultimately, we just try to be ourselves.

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Leslie writes about easy Korean cooking, kids and culture and shares comics about her life with her Korean husband and four crazy kids at www.koreainmykitchen.com.
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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Lessons in Korean cuisine from my Korean ex

Just because you break up with your boyfriend doesn’t mean you have to break up with his cuisine too.

Sveta and her Korean boyfriend parted ways several years back but she continues her love affair with the spicy flavors he once introduced to her — flavors that she never expected to crave. It’s amazing how a relationship, even when it’s over, can influence you in delightfully positive ways!

Have a delicious story worth sharing on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn how to have your post published here.

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(photo by Alpha via Flickr.com)
(photo by Alpha via Flickr.com)

Recently I went to a Korean restaurant with a Chinese friend. I had a craving for a spicy Korean dish called Ddeokbokki which includes sliced rice noodles, fish cakes and vegetables, and is flavored with a sauce called Gochujang. My Chinese friend ordered a mild dish with pork, while I ordered Ddeokbokki.

As the cooks were making our meals, I wondered, Did they think that I ordered the mild pork while my friend ordered the spicy Ddeokbokki? The servers even assumed I couldn’t use chopsticks — they handed me Western-style utensils when they brought the food to our table — and they weren’t the only ones.

“Do you know how to use chopsticks?” my Chinese friend asks me.

“Yes,” I reply as I pick them up and dig right into the Ddeokbokki, to the astonishment of my friend.

I break the egg and spread it over the dish, just like I learned how to do years before. Later on, I pick up a small piece of fish cake called odang, which was covered in red sauce, and encourage my friend to try it. “It’s really good.” I’ll bet nobody in that restaurant imagined that I would introduce my friend to Ddeokbokki.

As I continue eating Ddeokbokki, I have to laugh at how much my tastes have changed. Who would have thought that a girl who couldn’t stand spicy food before 2008 now craves Korean food and even likes it? If you had told me in my early twenties that I would learn to love Korean cuisine, I would have shot you an incredulous look before launching into the many reasons I wouldn’t enjoy Korean food. After all, the Russian cuisine I was raised on — salads, potatoes, vegetables, chicken and beef — never included spicy foods like Ddeokbokki.

(photo by Anna Lee via Flickr.com)
(photo by Anna Lee via Flickr.com)

But then in January of 2008, I met Elliott, an international student from South Korea — a man who I ended up dating until September 2010. While we ate a lot of American food when we were together, Elliott also started introducing me to spicier Korean cuisine. He even taught me how to use chopsticks because his apartment didn’t have any forks or spoons.

It took me a long time to get used to the spiciness of Korean food. At first, when he would make spicy ramen noodle soup, the inside of my mouth felt like it was on fire and I needed to have lots of water to quench my thirst. Sometimes I wasn’t even able to finish the soup. But despite that, I kept on trying it. Finally, on this one day in March 2010 when I was eating this spicy noodle soup, I mentioned to Elliott that it was a little bland and even added kimchi to the broth. He laughed and told me that I was behaving just like a Korean! That was the moment I realized I had truly fallen in love with Korean food forever, beyond all of my expectations.

I am reminded of the Yiddish saying “Humans make plans while God laughs,” which means that things never turn out the way you expect them too. That includes the foods you come to love and even crave in life, like a little Ddeokbokki.

Svetlana is a book review blogger and enjoys reading unique literature as well as discovering AM/WF books. Her blog has something for everyone. She is still single.

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts and love stories! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.