Back To Top

International marriages fall to 12-year low

The number of international marriages of a Korean and foreign spouse is on a steady decrease, along with falling divorce and childbirth rates among multicultural families, the state-run statistics agency said Thursday.

According to a multicultural family report compiled by Statistics Korea, the number of international marriages stood at 24,387 in 2014, the lowest since 2003. It fell 9.5 percent from a year earlier, showing a steady annual decline since 2008.

The steady decline has been attributed to government efforts to sort out unlicensed marriage agencies and insincere marriage deals to prevent marital violence and marriage fraud.

The number of husbands at least 10 years senior to their wives made up 37.5 percent, down from 44.8 percent in 2012 and 41.7 percent in 2013.

The majority, 63.6 percent, of international marriages consisted of a South Korean husband and a foreign wife. Couples with a foreign husband and a South Korean wife constituted about 24.1 percent. The remaining 12.3 percent included couples with one or two naturalized foreign-born spouses.

“Among multicultural marriages in 2014, the combination of a South Korean groom and a foreign bride decreased 12.1 percent compared to 2013, while the opposite case dropped only half of that, 6.7 percent,” Statistics Korea said in a press statement, implying that multicultural marriages are starting to shift away from the once-dominant formula of a South Korean man and a Southeast Asian woman.

The number of divorces between international couples also dropped 4.3 percent on-year to 12,902, making up about 11.7 percent of all divorce cases in Korea in 2014. 

During the same period, the childbirth rate in multicultural families dropped to 21,174, down 0.5 percent from the previous year. Multicultural childbirths made up about 4.9 percent of all childbirths here in 2014.

By Chung Joo-won (

catch table
Korea Herald daum