November 29, 2023

Perfect Match? North Korean Wives for South Korean men

Is marriage of North Korean women to South Korean men a win-win solution for all?

The reactions I’ve had over the years to the fact that I’m married to a South Korean man have included, “Whoa… how do you cope with your mother-in-law?” “You must cook Korean food then,” “You are a brave woman,” and on one occasion, “How can I get one?” We foreign women married to South Korean men are a distinct minority and we are often seen by Koreans as slightly crazy for having taken on a life-long challenge, or met with nervous resistance from skeptical in-laws.

Given the power that ethnic and cultural homogeneity still has in South Korean society, it is easy to understand how intercultural marriage continues to be an unsettling thought for parents, friends and colleagues of the happy couple. Like the marriage of any two people of different origins, the cultural difference does add some complications to the situation. Yet with one in five South Korean boys facing the prospect of never marrying because there are too many of them, and one in four ending up divorced, it is possible that South Korean men are going to have to be more creative in their choice of wives.