Credit: Public domain.
South Korea’s labor market wasn’t the only thing affected by COVID-19 restrictions. (See previous coverage, “Labor Crunch Threatens Manufacturing.”) South Korea’s marriage market was also affected: according to the Bureau of Statistics 통계청 2021 survey of multicultural demographics, the number of international marriages declined by 13.9%, falling more steeply than marriages overall, which fell by 9.8%.
On the other hand, a greater number of younger Korean men are marrying non-Korean women. Previously, it had been common practice for older Korean men to look outside the country after striking out in the domestic dating market during their 20s and 30s. That trend may be fading. In 2019, only 8.9% of grooms in international marriages were in their 20s; in 2021, that number rose to 14.5%. The most common countries of origin for international brides are China (23.9%), Vietnam (13.5%) and Thailand (11.4%).