updated 28 Feb 2014, 05:48
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Wed, Aug 04, 2010
Viet Nam News/ ANN
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She married him, but she did not love him
by Vinh Hoa

HA NOI - Nguyen Thuy Vinh met her future South Korean husband in Hai Duong four years ago through an acquaintance.

She later married him, even though she did not love him. Vinh could not help but felt nervous about her future before she boarded her plane for South Korea.

As she watched her husband feed her four-year-old son at a small party during a short trip back to Viet Nam, Vinh, 32, said she eventually found happiness in her marriage. Vinh then began to soothe and whisper in Korean to her son.

A Vietnamese woman, seen with her South Korean husband and daughter, is among eight returning Vietnamese brides welcomed back at an event in Ha Noi.
More than 40,000 Vietnamese women have married South Korean men, according to Ha Noi-based South Korean Embassy.
— VNA/VNS Photo Minh Thuy

Vinh's happiness, however, didn't come easily.

"I tried very hard to learn Korean before the marriage. I even applied and got hired by a Korean company before my first trip to my husband's house in Korea. I wanted to know about Korean culture," she said.

Vinh agrees that she was luckier than many Vietnamese girls who moved to Korea to get married.

With her knowledge of Korean culture, Vinh quickly adapted to her new life and started becoming more involved with community activities in Korea.

She joined the local women's union and worked as a translator for the police, whenever there was a domestic dispute between a Vietnamese woman and her Korean husband.

Two months ago, the women's union, with Vinh's assistance, were able to help a young and pretty Vietnamese bride named Chi.

Her husband's family forbade her from interacting with anyone outside of the family because they were worried that she might be convinced to leave the family behind, said Vinh.

Staff from the women's union and Vinh eventually met up with Chi at her school.

"She burst into tears when she saw us," Vinh said. "She had a four-month-old son and didn't have anyone to communicate with."

The union and Vinh were then able to raise money to buy food and clothes for Chi. They also comforted Chi by visiting and talking to her.

A crucial key

"Knowing the husband's family and having knowledge of the Korean language and culture in advance is a crucial key to happiness," Vinh said.

Vinh made these remarks at an event set up by GM Daewoo and sponsored by the South Korean Embassy, which served as a welcoming party for eight returning Vietnamese brides.

Luong An Thuyen, 28, claimed that language and culture could be major relational barriers for mixed couples.

Thuyen, like many Vietnamese brides who moved to Korea, met her husband through a broker. "My group of five people went to meet a group of Korean men. And four of us were selected," she said. The marriage was set quickly after that meeting.

"I had a very hard time when I first arrived in Korea because I didn't speak Korean and was not familiar with the customs and the food," she said.

"Life is easier now, but I really hope that other Vietnamese women, who are getting married to Korean men, learn their language and culture in advance," Thuyen added.

More than 40,000 Vietnamese women have married South Korean men, according to a report from the South Korean Embassy to Viet Nam.

Since 2007, three Vietnamese brides have committed suicide in Korea because they were unhappy with their marriage. Earlier last month a young Vietnamese bride was murdered by her husband, who had been diagnosed with a mental illness.

The event sent shock waves throughout the Vietnamese community living in South Korea.

"I felt nervous after hearing the news. Today I'm happy, but who knows what can happen because my husband is just like other men who drink and can get out of control," said Thuyen.

Korean Ambassador to Viet Nam, Suk-Huan Park, said the Korean government is pushing to investigate illegal marriage brokers and open courses for Korean men before they marry Vietnamese wives. The government is also considering creating classes for Vietnamese women who have moved to Korea to marry.

"There is a need from both the Korean and Vietnamese governments to stop these illegal marriage arranging companies," said the ambassador.

Many Korean women once aspired to marry American men, with the hopes that prosperity would follow, Park said. "But to have a happy and prosperous life is hard no matter where you are, and Vietnamese brides should remember that."

Park also suggested that Vietnamese women find out more about their future husbands and their families before they decide to get married.

"Once they have made the decision to have this mixed marriage, they should learn about each other's culture and languages," he added.

(The names in this story were changed in order to protect the identity of those interviewed)

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