Posted: August 13th, 2013
Weddings in Asia
Weddings in Asia
The cross-border marriages in Asia have been on the rise in recent years. This has been attributed to various changes affecting the social structure. These changes have made it necessary for the community to change in order to fit into the new structure. The Koreans are known for maintenance of their traditions. However, they have incorporated some modifications to their culture even though they still observe their traditions. Many Koreans are now marrying partners from other regions. Cross-border marriages are taking a high percentage on the Korean marriage records. Many foreigners have now settled in the region. This is due to globalization and rural-urban migrations of labor in the region. Some of the underlying factors contributing to this trend of cross-border marriages have attracted research interests since they explain various aspects of the phenomenon.
Sex composition of a country is extremely crucial when it comes to marriages. The low fertility .level of Koreans has led to imbalance in the sex composition. The number of newborns has declined significantly. The decline has been attributed to the government policies, media intervention and the women improved status, which advocate for birth controls. This means that when the young people reach the marriage eligible age, they lack potential partners for marriage since there is no variety from which to choose. This therefore leads to looking for spouses in other regions. The rise in sex ratio is an outstanding phenomenon in Korea (Kendall, 1996). The number of males outnumbers the number of females by a great margin. There are a large number of single men in their mid thirties, and the number is expected to rise due to the great imbalance between the ratio of men and women of marriage age. This has been profoundly influenced by the community’s traditions that prefer males to females.
Another contributor is the sex selective migration among the population. When migration is sex selective, this leads to great imbalance in the sex composition among the population. Many young women migrate from the rural areas to the town in search of jobs and a better life. This leaves fewer women in the villages, and this has caused the rise in number of bachelors in the rural areas. The imbalance in sex composition has seen many marriages among younger men with older women and the bachelors marrying the divorcees (Goldstein-Gidoni, 1997).
Value transformation has greatly influenced the marriage changing trends. The empowerment of women has reduced their willingness to get married. Women have delayed getting married since it would tie them up and deny them the chance to empower themselves. Some women have also decided to avoid marriage completely. Traditionally women got married to raise their children with the husbands who would provide financial support to the family. Many women in the modern world have jobs, and they earn money enough to support them and their families and therefore do not see the need to get into marriages. This has yet again reduced the number of women available for marriage in Korea. The effects of globalization cannot be ignored. The internet and other inter-cultural interactions between Koreans and members of other countries have transformed their attitudes, values and norms. Many Koreans, especially women who traditionally got married at a young age, are now changing their views on marriage and delaying the age at which they get married. Globalization has opened doors for women to get jobs in other countries to bridge the gender equality gap. It has also promoted the marriage of Korean women by foreigners.
The trend in marriage of foreign wives by Korean men reveals that most of the selected wives are Chinese. A great percentage of these Chinese brides turn out to be ethnic Koreans from Jilin and Liaoning provinces. Most of the foreign grooms are from America, Japan and China. The number of foreign grooms is less than the number of foreign wives meaning that the men marry women from other regions at a higher rate than the women marry foreign wives. The cross-border marriage between Korean grooms and Chinese brides is anticipated to continue increasing. The government introduced a policy that promotes the free movement of labor between the countries. The Koreans therefore have greater job opportunities in china hence the interactions will be highly facilitated. This will subsequently lead to rise in the number of inter marriages.
The economic failure of North Korea due to famine led to illegal immigration of the Koreans into China. The China government operates strict regulation of emigration into the country. To avoid deportation, the Koreans have opted to marry the Chinese citizens to gain citizenship to allow them stay in the country. Women’s trafficking has been experienced across the borders where the women are taken to china by brokers and sold off to Chinese men (Goldstein-Gidoni, 1997). Other women are even sold off by their husband at a price in false promises of jobs. These women are sometimes forced to turn into sex workers.
Marriage brokers or brokerage agencies play a vital role in promoting cross marriages. They connect people from different countries to the point of marriage. This has facilitated the acquisition of foreign brides for the Korean men who need the women from other regions. They also facilitate the marriages of the partners from different countries and the migration to the country of choice (Kendall, 1996). These agencies will continue to promote this kind of marriages especially due to technological advancements, which have made it a lot easier.
Most of the cross border spouses reside in urban areas. Men married to Chinese brides live in the cities while those with Philippine, Thailand and Vietnamese brides live in rural areas (Goldstein-Gidoni, 1997). The distribution is a reflection of the economic situation of the respective countries. Research has also revealed that most Korean women opt for men in more developed countries since they are in pursuit of a better life. There has been a rise in cases of divorce in Korea and the cross-border marriages have not been excluded. Marriages between Korean citizens and citizens of more developed countries tend to last longer than those involving citizens of less developed countries.
The immigration process of Korea has had a great contribution to the cross-border marriages. The major reason for female migrations in Korea is marriage. Most women leave the country for marriage in foreign countries, and few women leave the country purposely to look for employment. In urban areas, the marriages between Korean men and foreigners living in the country are on the rise. The interactions with foreigners in the country contribute to the marriages since around two thirds of the immigrants establish their relationships in the country before they move to foreign countries.
Introduction of the cross-border couples is through personal interactions, marriage agencies and associations such as religious and social associations. The method they use to meet for the first time determines the fee they pay for the interaction fee and the number of times they meet before marriage. Most migrant wives admit that the reason for marrying Korean men was economic while few stated their love for the partner as the basis of the marriage. Those who meet through agencies meet for purely economic reasons and they state that the information given to them before marriage was not true. There have been a large number of deception and criminal cases arising from the operation of the marriage agencies. It has become a necessity for the government to intervene through setting up of regulations to control these agencies.
Immigrant women are more willing to work in comparison to the women in Korea. The largest population of females with jobs is immigrants and some of them are subjected to long working hours. Korean men with foreign wives are supportive of their working since they contribute in the upkeep of the family. This shows that the cross-border marriages have positively affected the economy by providing labor for the industries. The largest proportion of the income of the cross-border married couple was from earned income and almost insignificant allowances from the government showing that the welfare system does not provide financial support for the cross-border marriages (Kendall, 1996).
The social security policies have neglected the welfare of the households with female immigrant wives. Most tend to live below the minimum standards, and it is reported that quite a number of them skip meals due to lack of finances to buy the food. Housing is also a problem for them since they do not have basic facilities such as bathrooms. This demonstrates the level of poverty that the female immigrants encounter.
The cross-border marriages are a trend on the rise in Asia, and they have affected Korea greatly. This phenomenon is expected to have a greater impact on the country’s economy and social structure in the coming years since the underlying causes of cross-border marriages are yet to be addressed. The government has also come up with policies that will promote the marriages, which have had a positive impact on the economy.
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