S.Korea to set up task force on international marriages

SEOUL, July 23, 2010 (AFP) - South Korea will set up a task force to reform the international matchmaking business following the fatal stabbing of a Vietnamese woman by her mentally ill husband, officials said Friday.

The task force will be manned by officials from the ministries of justice, gender equality, culture and foreign affairs, the prime minister's office said.

It will discuss measures ranging from changing how international marriage brokerage businesses are run to helping foreign spouses settle in Korea.

Thach Thi Hoang Ngoc, 20, was beaten and stabbed to death by her 47-year-old husband on July 8, eight days after she arrived in the southern port city of Busan.

The man told police he had heard a "ghost's voice" urging him to kill the bride when they quarrelled. He had been treated 57 times for schizophrenia since July 2005, police said.

Prime Minister Chung Un-Chan called for tighter control over international marriage brokerages and a budget increase for facilities supporting multicultural families.

Ngoc's family will receive 30 million won (25,020 dollars) in compensation, Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.

More than a third of South Korean fishermen and farmers who married last year chose immigrant brides, some because they were unable to find local women happy to lead a rural lifestyle.

Official figures show foreigners -- mostly from China or Southeast Asia -- were brides in 1,987 marriages to farmers and fishermen in 2009, 35 percent of the total.

The figures showed 47 percent of the foreign brides came from Vietnam, 26 percent from China and 10 percent from Cambodia.

Also on Friday, a court in Busan sentenced three brokers to up to one year in prison on charges of illegally arranging marriages between Koreans and Vietnamese women.

Matchmaking agents arrange short overseas trips for Korean bachelors to find candidates.

Activists say some foreign brides, coaxed by false promises or deceptive advertising, end up living with spouses who have few assets or who are ill, alcoholic or just difficult.

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