Disputes intensified on Thursday over a growing number of marriage brokers forcing foreign brides to take their clothes off under the guise of conducting interviews before they leave for Korea.
According to civic groups and local reports, some brokers have compelled foreign brides to undress, while making excuses that they need to “check their virginity or to see whether they are pregnant.” Most foreign brides end up complying with “their ridiculous requests” to “make a good impression on the brokers” in the hopes of being introduced to good Korean husbands, said a consultant at a state-funded support center for foreign spouses.
“There have been a number of calls from foreign brides accusing brokers of forcing them to show their naked bodies,” the consultant said.
“The illegal practice has been reported for some years, but there is no way for the government to impose sanctions against them because it is happening in their home country, not in Korea,” she said.
A Vietnamese woman said in an interview with local daily Munhwa Ilbo that she was introduced to her husband only after she went through the “shameful” interview.
“I felt really shameful but thought it was a general procedure to marry a Korean,” she was quoted as saying by the local daily. The 22-year-old said that she took her clothes off in the interview with her mother and sister in attendance.
A recent court ruling further sparked concerns as it acquitted a local broker accused of sexually harassing a would-be foreign bride by conducting a nude interview.
In November, the Daejeon District Court said in its ruling that the broker was found not guilty because there was a mutual agreement between the broker and the woman.
“It is hard to see if (the broker) had violated the sexual rights of the victim,” the court said.
Civic activists supporting foreign spouses lashed out at the ruling, saying such “abusive” practices would be even more tolerated in the brokerage business.
To this, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said that such interviews are a clear violation of human rights and it will strengthen the monitoring of brokers operating marriage arrangement businesses overseas.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)