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Redefining Homogeneity: Marriage Migration in Rural South Korea

Once a country known for its homogeneity, South Korea’s population is no longer homogeneous. Over the past 30 years, South Korea’s highest in-migration rate has been through marriage. Primarily women from southeast Asian countries – China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia – have been encouraged by government-sponsored subsidies to get married in South Korea. This ‘marriage migration’ was driven by the considerable numbers of unmarried men in rural towns, resulting from fast economic growth and internal migration by rural women to urban areas. The migrant brides, in turn, have created economic and cultural links between Korea and their home countries. This cultural and social phenomenon(Onishi 2008), this movement has vast implications and impacts on the future of this country and on what it now means to be identified as “Korean.”