A South Korean official announced on Tuesday that the country will screen bachelors seeking brides from overseas hereon. This, after the fatal stabbing of a Vietnamese woman by her mentally ill husband within eight days of her arrival.
The 20-year-old from Ho Chi Minh City was killed by her 47-year-old husband last Thursday in the southern port city of Busan.
The man turned himself in and told police he had heard a "ghost's voice" urging him to kill the bride when they quarrelled. He had been treated 57 times for schizophrenia since July 2005, police said.
"We will screen bachelors seeking to find brides abroad," Moon Soo-Yong, a ministry deputy director, told AFP.
"Those with a history of mental illness or a violent crime record and those who have married and divorced foreign brides three times or more will face restrictions on applying for visas for their would-be brides."
Koreans seeking foreign wives will have to take a class on human rights and foreign customs and culture, the ministry said.
More than a third of South Korean fishermen and farmers who married last year chose immigrant brides, some because they were unable to find local women happy to lead a rural lifestyle.
Official figures show foreigners -- mostly from China or Southeast Asia -- were brides in 1,987 marriages to farmers and fishermen in 2009, 35 percent of the total.
The figures showed 47 percent of the foreign brides came from Vietnam, 26 percent from China and 10 percent from Cambodia.
South Korean matchmaking agents arrange short overseas trips for Korean bachelors to find candidates.
The entire procedure from their first interview with brides to the marriage ceremony and honeymoon usually takes less than a week.
Activists say some foreign brides, coaxed by false promises or deceptive advertising, end up living with spouses who have few assets or who are ill, alcoholic or just difficult.
Such unions often end in divorce and there have been cases of suicide and spousal abuse.
Cambodia in March suspended marriages between South Koreans and its citizens in what it said was an attempt to curb human trafficking. The ban was lifted a month later after safeguards were introduced.
Under a new law, staff of matchmaking agencies can face a maximum prison term of two years or heavy fines for giving potential foreign brides false information about spouses or about married life in South Korea.