Monday, November 23, 2009

ROK Supreme Court reveals roster of foreign nationals in family registry system

The Supreme Court appears to be trying to play up the growing presence of foreign nationals in Korea, or as they say "improving public awareness of the demographic transition," by highlighting the hundreds of thousands who now appear in the family registry system:
Men from advanced nations and women from developing countries mainly accounted for Korea's increasing number of multi-cultural couples, according to the Supreme Court Sunday. This is the first time a family relations roster of multi-racial families has been made public.

The survey showed that 143,107 men and 134,831 women of foreign origin from 10 nations are part of multi-cultural families with proper family registration.

Looking into the nationality of foreign males, American nationals topped the list with 73,512, followed by Japanese (39,900), Chinese (17,494), Canadians (3,369), Germans (2,894), English (1,596), Australian (1,532), French (1,143), Pakistanis (836) and Taiwanese (832).
For the women there's definitely a different picture:
In contrast, the survey found more than 85 percent, or 115,934, of the foreign-born wives were from developing countries such as China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia.

Currently, 70,878 Chinese women, or 52.5 percent, topped the list of foreign-born wives of Korean husbands, followed by Vietnamese (30,621), Japanese (12,355), Filipinas (6,355), Americans (3,572), Cambodians (2,913), Thais (2,762), Mongolians (2,405), Uzbekistanis (1,555) and Russians (1,415).
It doesn't give any indication whether these "foreigners" have ROK nationality or not, which would not make them foreigners at all. They are also referred to as people from such-and-such country, which would allow for naturalized Koreans to be included.

This is, of course, a very different situation from as recently as a few years ago when, I believe, foreign males who were married to ROK national women and chose not to get ROK citizenship themselves could not even be on a family registry.

Indeed, it's easy to see if you've been in Korea for any serious amount of time exactly which direction the trajectory is headed. Troglodytes who might berate a Korean woman in public because she's with a foreign man are remnants of an old order, not representatives of the current one. Of course, that's small consolation if you're on the receiving end of that.

The Joongang Daily also has the story, but with a somewhat silly headline.

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4 comments:

  1. I wonder how many foreign spouses with US, Canadian, or Japanese citizenship are ethnic Koreans. 3,000+ American women married to Korean men? During my nine-year stay I met only a handful of non-ethnic Korean US citizens married to Korean men compared to far more ethnic Korean wives with US or Canadian citizenship. The typical US citizen wife of a Korean citizen was a 1.5 generation naturalized Korean-American who had met and married her husband in North America and returned with him to Korea. I realize that more Western women are marrying Korean men, but I still think that a large number of those US citizens of both sexes are ethnic Korean.

    I recall from news stories that a majority or large minority of Chinese nationals in Korea are ethnic Korean.

    In Korea, foreign nationality does not necessary equate with ethnic or cultural diversity.

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  2. Sonagi wrote:
    I wonder how many foreign spouses with US, Canadian, or Japanese citizenship are ethnic Koreans.

    I think with the Japanese it might be a lot less than you think. Media and K-blog portrayals of Korean-Japanese animosity notwithstanding, Koreans and Japanese typically get along quite swimmingly when put in a social context together. Most Japanese I know in Korea — male or female — were mostly dating Korean nationals while they were in Seoul, with many ending up married.

    3,000+ American women married to Korean men? During my nine-year stay I met only a handful of non-ethnic Korean US citizens married to Korean men compared to far more ethnic Korean wives with US or Canadian citizenship.

    Sonagi, I myself know plenty of Caucasians from North America married to or in serious long-term relationships with ROK national men. This is becoming more and more common as more and more teachers come. While there are a lot of Caucasian women who will categorically reject the idea of dating any Korean male, a growing number of people coming are those with an pre-existing interest in Korea and a receptiveness to dating Korean men.

    And then there are Caucasian women who get to Korea and find that (a) many of the Anglophone men are going through their second adolescence, and/or (b) many of the Anglophone men have ended up in Korea precisely because they're not all that interested in American women (sometimes including kyopo women).

    My ex and another Caucasian I dated both, prior to me, exclusively or mostly dated only ROK national males during their years spent in Korea.

    Now I'm not saying that's the norm, but it's a growing segment.

    The typical US citizen wife of a Korean citizen was a 1.5 generation naturalized Korean-American who had met and married her husband in North America and returned with him to Korea.

    That's a lot of my female kyopo friends as well. In fact, almost all of my female kyopo friends that I know from back in Orange County but who lived in Seoul fell into that category.

    I hang around a group of them, having weekly or semi-weekly lunches with them. We call it our "OC ajumma club," even though I'm not an ajumma and at least one or more of our members are not from OC. They do sit around and commiserate (and ask me for my male perspective) because while it may not be an inter-ethnic union, it is definitely somewhat of an inter-cultural one, even with the ones born in Korea who emigrated in junior high.

    I realize that more Western women are marrying Korean men, but I still think that a large number of those US citizens of both sexes are ethnic Korean.

    I don't think it's the majority, but it could be a larger minority than you think.

    In Korea, foreign nationality does not necessary equate with ethnic or cultural diversity.

    See my comment above. Many kyopo brides of ROK national men do indeed stir up the cultural pot.

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  3. Sonagi wrote:
    I recall from news stories that a majority or large minority of Chinese nationals in Korea are ethnic Korean.

    I remember that, too, especially when residents from the PRC were a novelty and modern ROK-PRC relations were in their nascent stage. At the time, it was mostly Chosŏnjok who thought about South Korea as a destination.

    But over the last ten years, South Korea has become more associated with prosperity and opportunity, something that has attracted the 99% or so of PRC citizens who are NOT Chosŏnjok. I haven't lived in China like you have, but I have visited and I have talked about this with the PRC students in Seoul, Hawaii, and the US Mainland who I know.

    Looking back at those Chinese Olympic riots in spring 2008, weren't those thousands upon thousands mostly Han Chinese? Granted, there's a difference between studying in South Korea and marrying a South Korean national, but one trend nudges the other.

    At any rate, even if half of all PRC nationals in South Korea are ethnic Koreans, that still leaves half who are not. And that half of the half of all foreign brides who are Chinese means only one-fourth of all the foreign brides would be ethnic Koreans. So again, considerably ethnic diversity coming in.

    Moreover, since the ethnic Koreans in China are as culturally Chinese as Korean, if not more so, even a lack of ethnic mixing still brings cultural mixing.

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  4. "While there are a lot of Caucasian women who will categorically reject the idea of dating any Korean male, a growing number of people coming are those with an pre-existing interest in Korea and a receptiveness to dating Korean men. "

    I think the shrinking but still present dating/marriage gap between WF/KM couples and WM/KF couples owes more to factors other than cultural or racial preferences. First, an older male is a more acceptable mate than an older female, especially if the male has a high-status job or income. Second, women are less concerned with looks and weight in choosing a partner. Westerners are more likely to be overweight and even many women who fall within normal weight by Western standards would be considered chubby by Korean standards. I knew overweight Western women with Korean boyfriends, and I and other Western women dated younger Korean men, but these relationships were almost always on the sly and thus had no potential for permanence.

    See my comment above. Many kyopo brides of ROK national men do indeed stir up the cultural pot.

    Yes, but not to the same degree. For example, several returned gyopos were plugged into the Gangnam housewife scene, but all of the Western wives worked.

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