To Top

South Korean Government Fails to Protect Women

This past July, a video of a South Korean man verbally and physically abusing his Vietnamese wife went viral and caused national outrage. Similar incidents continue to happen to Vietnamese women everyday, but are the South Korean government’s latest efforts enough?

South Korea has an extremely high amount of foreign wives –– women who immigrate to other countries for the purpose of marriage. A majority of foreign wives in South Korea immigrated from Vietnam, with around 6,000 Vietnamese women marrying South Korean men each year. 

Often poverty-stricken or eager for better living conditions, Vietnamese women chase the “Korean Dream” promoted by Seoul pop culture and the rise of K-Pop. Additionally, South Korea, as a deeply-rooted patriarchal society, considers traditional gender roles an important part of marriage. For this reason, international matchmaker services brand Vietnamese women as the obedient, submissive partners that South Korean men seek.

In a survey of 920 foreign wives conducted by the National Human Rights Commission last year, 42% of women reported domestic violence in their marriages, and another 68% reported experiencing unwanted sexual advances. Within the last five years, less than one percent of reported domestic abuse cases have led to a prison sentence.

Although domestic violence rates are high, women are often hesitant to report incidents to police. This has a lot to do with the values and beliefs of South Koreans, who believe domestic abuse and other family issues should be kept private and under wraps. Women may also be hesitant to contact police because of their immigrant status.

“In the worst-case scenario, South Korean husbands and their families deliberately refrain from helping their migrant wives obtain citizenship or visa status,” says Kang Hye-sook, a director of the Woman Migrants Human Rights center in Daegu, South Korea.

In response to the severe domestic violence, the South Korean government has introduced legislation that will prohibit men with a history of domestic violence from marrying migrant women. The law will also apply to anyone charged with a sexual crime against a child or anyone who served jail time within the last ten years. The law will take effect next October.
The amendment, while positive in many ways, still fails to protect South Korean women. Domestic violence continues to be a prominent issue in the country, across all fronts. However, the nation appears to be moving in the right direction. With the rise of the Korean #MeToo Movement, reports of domestic abuse have similarly increased. Because of the changing attitudes and heightened awareness, South Korean citizens are beginning to consider domestic abuse a serious issue.

Featured Image by Elyasin Shaladi on Flickr

Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Be Informed

  • Black Mothers: The Risk of Giving Birth

    Serena Williams was not the first black woman to be ignored by her doctor post-partum. Black mothers consistently balance the joy...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 14, 2020
  • No More Bumps: 5 Steps to Smooth Skin

    Ladies, it’s hard to feel nice and smooth after shaving when ingrown hairs and bumps immediately take the spotlight. However, not...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 13, 2020
  • Healthy Social Media Use

    Social media presence has increased for decades, remaining incredibly prevalent in everyday life. Cultivate healthy habits by learning about the effects...

    Lydia SchapiroAugust 12, 2020
  • No Woman was Surprised by What Happened to AOC

    A few weeks ago, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was insulted by Representative Ted Yoho being called a “f—ing bitch” and “dangerous.” Afterwards,...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 12, 2020
  • The Meaning Behind #ChallengeAccepted

    Recently, a trend has surfaced on Instagram where women nominate one another privately to post a black and white picture of...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 11, 2020
  • Why Anti-feminism can be Fatal

    Recently, New Jersey Federal Judge Esther Salas and her family were attacked resulting in the loss of her son and injury...

    Kalyn WomackAugust 7, 2020
  • Elijah McClain: What to Know and What to Do

    Elijah McClain was a 23-year-old innocent black man killed by Colorado police. Recently, a peaceful protest and vigil in his honor...

    Kalyn WomackJuly 31, 2020
  • What does #FreeBritney Mean?

    Dedicated Britney Spears fans have been in fear of her safety during quarantine. They noticed her social media presence to be...

    Kalyn WomackJuly 23, 2020
  • How The Handmaid’s Tale Remains Relevant

    The Handmaid's Tale seems to reflect our world today. Is Atwood's novel entirely dystopian, or is she warning us?

    Lydia SchapiroJuly 23, 2020
  • 6 False Assumptions about Mental Illness

    There are various stigmas surrounding mental illness, and it is often difficult for affected individuals to feel appreciated. Learning about mental...

    Lydia SchapiroJuly 16, 2020