Monday, February 3, 2014

Marriage Agencies Help North Korean Refugees Adjust to Life in South Korea

Each year, North Koreans risk their lives and leave everything they know to defect to the South, and many of these 26,000 refugees are women. Due to cracking down on the boarder by the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, the last two years have seen a drop of refugees by almost half of what it was in 2011. Even with sharp decrease in North Koreans arriving into South Korean, 3 of every 4 have still been women. 

These women leave their homes and make the treacherous journey through the Chinese border to South Korea in search of a better life. And once the long process of resettling is over, the realization that they are without friends or family in a brand new place becomes overwhelming. For this reason, one of the first things a North Korean woman looks for upon arrival is the love and companionship of a South Korean husband. 

Dating and marriage agencies have been a big part of Korean culture and business for some time now. Due to the number of single North Korean women pouring into the country, marriage agencies specifically geared towards helping North Korean women have become quite popular. 

The founder of Namnam Buknyeo, one of the most sought out marriage agencies, Hong Seung-Woo, says one of his companies main goals is to assist North Korean women in their resettlement process and help them to be as happy as possible in their new home. He adds, “To do that, they need to build a network that can support them.” 

Namnam Buknyeo tries to make this possible by servicing North Korean women for free and having a policy that all male clients must be screened before they can be paired with women. Any men who are disabled, already married, or unemployed are not able to register. 

Since Namnam Buknyeo’s opening in 2006, it has been responsible for 450 marriages. Hong Seung-Woo can express much confidence when talking about his company’s success, and all he has to do is use his own marriage as an example! Mr. Hong met his wife, Ju Jeong-ok, after she registered for his company, looking for a partner after coming to South Korea in 2012. He claims after just one date, he had fallen for her kindness, good nature, and beauty and was sure he would marry her! 

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