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South Korea: A National Mourning on A Vietnamese Bride's Death

South Korean bloggers grieve for a Vietnam bride who was killed by her Korean husband a week after she landed Korea. Thach Thi Hoang Ngoc (age 20) was stabbed and beaten to death by her husband Jang Du Hyo (age 47) who had a mental illness. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak passed his condolence to the victim's family via Korean ambassador in Vietnam. Korean bloggers, while expressing their grievances to the murdered bride, urged the government and the police to clamp down the unwarranted marriage agencies who often lead marriages into tragedies by hiding the husband's mental history, characters and status.

A screen shot image of a portal site after entering a search word: Vietnam brides.

When you enter a search word ‘Vietnam brides’ in the Naver.com, Korea's most widely used portal site, almost nine out of ten are the marriage broker sites, alluring young Korean guys that they can get a Vietnam or other foreign bride in a reasonable price.

The murdered young bride, Ngoc was the one on the market. She arrived in Korea on July 1, got married and found as a cold body on 8. She could not speak Korean and knew nothing about her husband and about his mental instability. The husband later told the local police that he was instructed by a ghost to kill his wife.

Many Koreans were appalled by the news, most of them calling the incident as a national shame.

A lawyer blogger Springlaw commented in a posting that starts with a sentence ‘I am posting it, hoping such incident never happens again’ that the marriage was wrong from the start and it got ‘festered’ by the miscommunication, ignorance and late response.

신부를 거의 구매하다 싶이하고 서로 말이 통하지 않는 상태에서 폭력과 폭언으로 얼룩진 한국의 결혼생활 그 동안 많은 문제로 곪다 곪다 이제는 터져 버린거 같네요. 이제는 한 가정의 문제가 아닌 국가와 국가의 일로 커질거 같아 정말 걱정인 국제 결혼…이러한 잘못된 결혼 행태는 이미 전부터 사기결혼이라고 불릴만한 결혼들이 성행했었고, 그로 인해 가슴에 상처를 입은 해외 여성들이 많이 생겨났습니다. 이러한 문제를 이미 방송과 같은 언론에서 지적을 했지만 안일한 대처를 지속하던 국가와 국민들에게 베트남 신부의 피살이라는 부끄러운 일이 벌어졌습니다.

This problem got festered and festered furthermore and finally imploded as seen in this case. Korean guys nearly ‘bought’ brides and their marriage got stained by the physical violence and abusive languages under the situation they cannot understand each other’s language. I am worried this may go beyond a family matter, into a matter between countries… This wrong, fraud marriage pattern has been rampant from long ago and so many foreign brides had been hurt by it. Of course the media have pointed this problem out, but Korean people and the government was hardly responded to it and this lead into this shameful murder of a Vietnamese wife.

The international marriage is on a sharp rise in Korea. Around 11 percent (35 thousand cases) of the whole marriage are international, according to Korea Statistics Office. But many suspect it as a conditional marriage between an unmarriable Korean guy and a young foreign bride whom sold at around 7 to 10 thousand dollars. Almost every case the couples do not speak each other’s language, and the dysfunctional marriage ends up as the husbands beat the wives and the wives ran away. When the situation is bearable, the wives send money to their parents back in their homeland. The money young brides sent often transforms into a huge sum of money due to the currency margin.

A Korean blogger Trustme77 living in Vietnam coalesced Vietnamese comments to a news report on the story. Some shared their heartbreaking stories and others did not hold back their raging anger toward the marriage brokers and the government.

슬프다. 많은 베트남 여성들이 돈 때문에 그들 스스로의 존엄성을 상관하지 않는다. 더 슬픈 것은 베트남 법이 너무 느슨하다는 것이다. (Bui Tan Man)
도박같은 삶. 젊은 여성들은 외국 생활을 이해하지 못한다. 대부분 천국일 것이라고 생각한다. 그것은 순진한 여성들이 실수일 뿐이다. (Ta Duc Thong)
당신이 깨달았을 때 행복은 없다. 나는 한국 남성과 결혼하여 한국에서 살고 있다. 나는 브로커를 통해서 결혼했고 수백명의 여성들 사이에서 선택되었을 때 울었다…몇 달 간의 서류 절차를 거처 한국에 갔을 때 나의 꿈은 완전히 무너졌다. 그는 직업이 없었고 간질병 환자였다. 속았다는 것을 알았을 때 고향을 그리워하며 많이 울었다. (Nguyen Thi Hong)
국제 결혼 브로커들은 처벌되야 한다. 왜 당국은 나서지 않는가? (Anh Minh)

This is sad: Many Vietnamese women do not care their dignities as a exchange for the money and more sad thing is that the Vietnamese law is too loose. (Bui Tan Man)
A life of a gamble: Many young women do not understand what the life in foreign countries would be like. Most of them imagine it would be like a life in paradise. But that is a mistake of these naïve women. (Ta Duc Thong)
There is no happiness when you realize: I am married to Korean husband and now living in Korea. I got married via a broker and I cried (for happiness) when I was selected as the bride among several hundred other women…After several months of paper works, I arrived in Korea and my dream went shattered down. My husband has no job and he was an epileptic. When I realized that I was being ripped, I cried a lot thinking about my homeland. (Nguyen Thi Hong)
Those international brokers should be punished. Why the government do some serious work on it? (Anh Minh)

Korean society’s apathy is not helping the situation, commented a blogger Danbee 928, urging Koreans to remember their humble times in the 1960s and 70s, when many Korean went to war zone or Western countries to earn money to home.

우리에게도 과거 가난을 탈출하겠다고 서독 광부로, 간호사로, 그리고 월남전으로 떠난 일이 있습니다. 낯설고 물설은 이역만리에서 가난을 이겨 나가겠다고 그리고 되물림 하지 않겠다고 얼마나 힘들게 지냈는지. 왜 개구리 올챙이적 생각을 하지 못할까요?

We also had gone to other countries to earn money, some as a miner in West Germany, some as a nurse and others as (a soldier or worker) in Vietnam War. You remember how much we have struggled in a far, far away foreign country not at all familiar to you, to fight poverty and not to pass the hunger to our children. Why can’t us remember our humble times?

The South Korean Police promised to conduct a nationwide full-out investigation on marriage brokerage firms, whether they are registered or unregistered. Bloggers are hoping it be thorough and conclusive enough to erase a stain off the nation’s name.

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