Imagine just after your marriage to a Korean spouse and you have already finalized plans to move in with him/her to Korea but then suddenly a law pops up requiring you to pass a Korean language exam to be granted entry! Well, the law has already sparked rage after several people came out to vehemently oppose it.
Many Koreans are married to spouses from China, Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and many other Asian countries. It is widely feared that the controversial law will lead to the breakup of many existing Korean interethnic marriages, jeopardize plans for prospective marriages. It is also feared that such marriages will incur heavy emotional burdens as couples will be forced into long distance relationships.
Initially, the law’s motive was to prevent domestic abuse in the event that due to language barriers, the foreign spouse might fail to communicate his or her ordeal to the adjudicating family court. However, the law has come under sharp criticism by thousands of already married spouses who allege that the law was passed to witch-hunt them.
In March this year, one victim went too far in expressing his frustration by setting a match-making company office on fire that burnt it down. At that time, he said that he was expressing his anger and frustration after his newlywed Vietnamese bride was refused entry into Korea for failing the language exam.
Rural farmers have been the most affected as they have frequently used the services of matchmaking companies to find and marry foreign women. This is due to the scarcity of women to marry in Korean rural areas. One of them in his early 40s was left frustrated after his Cambodian wife couldn’t pass the exam. He said: “It’s a difficult situation that you have to pass an exam in order to come into the country. My wife in Cambodia also feels this way and I miss her a lot.”
Internet reaction to the strange law was mixed as some argued for the law while others argued against it. The majority of social media followers sympathized with the affected couples saying that there should be a grace period given to the foreign spouses for them to try and learn the complex language. But those who support the law say that it is necessary to blend the foreign spouses into the Korean community and also prevent domestic violence against foreign brides.
Others vehemently opposed the ever rising number of multicultural marriages saying that this will ruin Koreans’ cultural identity. Whatever side the authorities choose to listen, the eyes are set on the stage to see if there will be a change of mind from the legislators to offer some leniency to those affected by this law.