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Chinese make up lion's share of foreign wives in Korea

The Korea Herald/Asia News Network--Chinese women took up the largest portion of foreign wives married to Korean men in 2009, government data said.

According to Statistics Korea, a total of 11,364 Chinese women married Korean men in 2009, while 7,249 Vietnamese and 1,643 Filipina women walked down the aisle with Korean men in the same year.

They were followed by Japanese, Cambodian, Thai, American and Mongolian wives, numbering 1,140, 851, 496, 416 and 386 people, respectively, the state-run statistics agency said.

The number of international marriages, especially between Korean men and Chinese women, has been on the rise for years, jumping from 4,710 in 1990 to 42,356 in 2005.

The number then began to decrease after hitting its peak in 2005, falling to 33,300 in 2009.

With the surging number of international marriages, one out of every 10 couples who marry is international. The government made revisions to a related law last year, stating that would-be spouses in both countries would have to report their personal details, including their health and criminal records, before the wedding.

Marriage brokers are also mandated to translate the documents into the language of the prospective foreign spouse and provide interpretation services to them in face-to-face meetings.

In a related effort, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family signed an agreement with the Vietnamese Women's Association last year and agreed to dispatch a ministry official to oversee the entire marriage process starting this year.

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