Vietnam claimed the top spot on the list of countries with the highest number of brides in South Korea, and the third highest number of grooms, following China and United States, in 2016, according to official figures.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics of South Korea, the number Vietnamese grooms in South Korea in 2016 accounted for 2.6 percent of the total number of foreign grooms in the country, following Chinese grooms at 9.9 percent and U.S. grooms at 6.4 percent.
Last year, Vietnam had the highest number of brides in South Korea, constituting 27.9 percent, around 6,000 brides, of the total number of foreign brides in the country.
This is the first time Vietnamese brides have outnumbered their Chinese and Filipina peers, accounting for 26.9 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.
With 27.9 percent of the foreign brides in South Korea in 2015, China’s drop on the list can be attributed to only 5,838 brides being wed to Korean grooms last year.
The total number of intercultural marriages between Koreans and foreigners reached 22,000 last year, a 3.4 percent drop from 2015.
During a festival held from November 30 to December 3 to promote Vietnamese and Korean culture and trade in Ho Chi Minh City, Ku Ja-hee, head of the department in charge of FTA agricultural product distribution in Gyeongsangbuk Province, eastern South Korea, said the growing number of Vietnamese marrying Koreans has created a Vietnam-South Korea diplomatic relationship that resembles that of a flourishing “in-law family.”
In addition, assistance from local communities has helped streamline the naturalization and integration process for the rising number of Vietnamese brides in the country, he added.
Many communities also hold social activities that allow foreign spouses an opportunity to begin their integration into society, Ku said.
These activities and programs have proved successful, so much so that a Vietnamese bride in South Korea was able to become a local government official.
Certain programs also aim to support children in Vietnamese-South Korean multicultural families, including one that allows kids from participating families to visit their maternal homeland for free. This year there were four families who participated.
“Time spent in Vietnam can help children and other family members in the country understand each other and connect better, provide the kids with an orientation for the future, and build a connection with the culture of each country,” Ku said at the festival.