SEJONG, March 22 (Korea Bizwire) — After years of steady decline, the number of marriages between a South Korean national and a foreign citizen increased in 2017 thanks to a surge in men wedded to Thai women last year.
Per Statistics Korea, 20,800 South Korean-foreigner couples tied the knot last year, 1.2 percent more than in 2016, and 7.9 percent of all marriages were international marriages.
From 37,600 in 2007, the number of international marriages fell below the 30,000 mark in 2011 before dwindling to 20,600 in 2016.
Foreign brides were mostly Vietnamese (36.1 percent), Chinese (26.1 percent) and Thai (6.8 percent), while grooms hailed from China (25.5 percent), the U.S. (23.3 percent) and Vietnam (9.8 percent).
Marriages to Thai women sharply increased last year compared to the year prior by 41.3 percent.
In more good news for international marriages, divorces fell by 7 percent to 7,100. Yearly dissolved international marriages have stayed on a downward trajectory over the last six years.
Two-thirds of the women in international marriages that ended in divorce were from China and Vietnam (75.5 percent). Chinese and Japanese men made up the majority (66.8 percent) in marriages ended with South Korean women.
An official at Statistics Korea said, “While the number of international marriages is falling, only marriages involving Thai women increased last year. As marriages to foreigners are continuing to decline, divorces are happening less with time lag.”
With international marriages on the whole declining in recent years, the number of international marriage agencies have also thinned. Per the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the number of agencies dropped from 473 to 362 (2014 to 2017). Users of these matchmaking agencies dropped drastically as well by 66 percent (7,415 to 2,705) in the same period. However, yearly average revenue was higher per business than in 2014.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)