South Korea bans men with history of abuse from marrying foreign women

Legal amendment brought in after footage of man beating his Vietnamese wife sparked outcry

South Korea is to enact legislation that will ban men with a history of domestic violence from marrying foreign women, the justice ministry has confirmed.

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.

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About 6,000 Vietnamese women marry men in South Korea every year, overtaking China as the country sending the largest number of foreign brides to South Korea, according to the South Korean embassy in Hanoi.

The amendment will prohibit South Korean men from inviting foreign women to the country for the purpose of marriage if they have a criminal record of domestic violence, irrespective of when that occurred.

Anyone sentenced to a sexual crime against a child within the past 10 years, or who has received a jail term in the same time, will also be subject to the newly amended law.

The new amendment to the countrys immigration control laws will take effect in October next year, the ministry said in a legislative note published on Thursday.

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Video of the July incident was posted on social media and caused widespread public outrage, highlighting the vulnerable position of foreign women who marry abusive spouses.

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.

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. Didnt I tell you that you are not in Vietnam, he shouts.

Later the Vietnamese woman is seen slumped in the corner of her home as her two-year-old son cries next to her.

In interviews with police the husband said he was drunk at the time and assaulted his wife because she did not speak fluent Korean.

Following the assault the victim fled to a womens shelter with her son and treated for a fractured rib.

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Activists say that while a high proportion of migrant wives experience abuse, few report their cases to the police.

South Koreas justice ministry said the legal revision to the countrys immigration control law was intended to prevent domestic violence from occurring and protect the rights of migrant spouses.

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