Friday, July 26, 2013

Ruling Against Sham International Marriages Threatens US-Korea Relationship

A minor district court's move against so-called 'sham international marriages' could cause a profound change in the relationship between South Korea and the United States, experts have warned.

The Busan District Court ruled on Sunday that a denial of a visa extension for a foreign worker is justified when there are sufficient grounds to believe that his marriage to a Korean woman appears appears not to be "genuine". The ruling showed the courts are becoming less tolerant of sham international marriages involving vulnerable Koreans given the recent alarming increase in the population of male foreigners in the country.

In the case, a Pakistani man, identified as "M", didn't live together with his supposed Korean wife, and the couple didn't remember their first date. It is also unclear when South Korea and the United States started their relationship, and the U.S. has seemingly made no real attempts to understand Korea's unique culture, while simultaneously developing relationships with other countries, creating the impression that it's relationship with South Korea is also not genuine.

Many have also cited the obvious problems with communication between South Korea and the United States as a reason to doubt the validity of the relationship, coupled with occasional outbreaks of domestic violence. While there is some evidence that Korea has made attempts to learn its alleged partner's language, there has been no such reciprocity on the part of the U.S. - suggesting that at the very least Korea was duped into a relationship which allowed the U.S. to stay in Korea.

In the face of allegations that the relationship is a sham, South Korea and the United States issued a public statement earlier this year claiming that their relationship was "stronger than ever", but privately the U.S. Is believed to have said that it wants to leave the country as soon as possible, while South Korea has asked it not to so it can be given more time to change.

Legal experts say that even if South Korea wants to maintain the relationship, the 'prima-facie' case suggests it could well fall under the new definition of 'sham international marriages', if the legal ruling in Busan is held to be applicable to Seoul.

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