Amb. Lim Samkol Asks for Better Treatment of Cambodian Brides, Migrant Workers in South Korea
The Seoul Times
Cambodian Ambassador to Seoul Lim Samkol said "Cambodian women are not products," referring to Cambodian brides married to South Koreans, in a recent interview with a local vernacular daily.
In April, 2008 Cambodian government stopped temporarily issuing visas to those who marry Cambodian ladies. The move was taken as there were a number of cases in which Cambodian brides were mistreated or abused by foreign husbands.
In 2007 Vietnamese government bolstered regulations on international marriage after a Vietnamese woman was murdered by her South Korean husband.
As the number of foreign brides from the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and other Southeast Asian countries rise, cases of mistreating or abusing them also increase. There is a strong demand for improving human rights for those foreign brides.
In an interview with Kyunghyang Shinmun on June 10, 2008 at Cambodian Embassy in Seoul's Hannam-dong, the 60-year-old Cambodian envoy requested that South Korean people accept Cambodian bride as a new member of the family and try to understand the cultural difference.
He said "Cambodian women are not products." He was referring to the Cambodian women married to South Korean men who normally pay money for the marriage.
Asked about the backgrounds of stoppage of visa issuance he said that Cambodian government needed to make laws on international marriage to ward off rising cases of abuse against Cambodian brides abroad.
But he said that the visa stoppage is not only applied to South Koreans but also all the other nationalities.
He said that the government needed to protect Cambodian women going abroad for international marriage. As more and more Cambodian women go abroad after marriage cases of abusing them increase as well.
There are so many problems such as human trafficking, sex trade, child abuse, and physical and mental dieases involving Cambodian women who marry foreigners.
The Cambodian envoy even introduced a rumor that in Taiwan, a Taiwanese man even sold his Cambodian wife to the human trafficking ring.
Regarding Cambodian women marrying South Koreans, the Cambodain envoy pinpointed Korean men's lack of understanding about their Cambodian wife and its tradition and culture.
Most of the expense South Korean bridegroom pays go to marriage agency not to the bride's family, according to the Cambodian envoy.
"We do not want Cambodian women to be treated as a product," said Amb. Lim Samkol. "South Korean men should treat Cambodian wife with respect."
International marraige between South Korean men and Cambodian women should be in a way that is mutually benefitial to both countries.
Marriage agencies should also not seek only money but mind more about public and moral aspect of it.
He gave his personal thoughts that Cambodian women marrying Koreans had better learn Korean language for at least three months before they leave Cambodia.
And for those who are already in South Korea should be give a chance to learn Korean language.
The Cambodian ambassador stressed Cambodian brides' relations with her South Korean in-laws.In particular, Korean husband, mother in law, sisters in law, and other members of the family should understand the Cambodian bride enough.
He said that the Cambodian Embassy in Seoul is in need of helping the Cambodian women married to South Koreans. He needs supports from South Korean government for that.
Regarding the overall ties between Cambodia and South Korea, economic cooperations between the two countries has been consolidated steadily since the reopening of the diplomatic ties in 1997.
Since 2004 the number of South Korean tourists visitng Cambodia drastically increased.
Presently, about 3,500 immigrant workers from Cambodia are staying in South Korea, and the number of Cambodian brides in South Korea is estimated at 2,5000.
As part of ASEAN members, Cambodia is also participating in the FTA (free trade agreement) negotiations with South Korea.
Also, the leader of Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen is expected to play role of mediator between Pyongyang and Seoul for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the Cambodian envoy said.
Amb. Lim Samkol came to Seoul in November, 2004 for his diplomatic position. Since his arrival he has been very active in promoting mutual ties. Previously, he served at such Eastern countries as Czech and Slovak republics.
Before he became a diplomat, he worked as a high school math teacher. He earned his master's degree in international law from Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).
Questioned about his impression about Korea and Korean people, "Koreans are dynamic and active, and Korea is similar to Cambodia in historical experience, morals and customs," he said.
"I expect more Korean people can visit Cambodia," he said at the end of his interview.
For details or inquiries please contact the Cambodian Embassy in Seoul at 3785-1041.