The Wall Street Journal has a report today on marriage agencies that specialize in pairing South Korean men with North Korean women refugees looking to start over and settle into a new life in South Korea.
Agencies like Namnam Buknyeo, itself an abbreviated version of the Korean expression “Southern man, northern woman,” have steadily been matching up hundreds of couples for several years, even as North Korea continues to tighten its border. North Korean women interested in using Namnam Buknyeo’s matchmaking service can do so for free, but South Korean men have to pay a fee of nearly $3,000 to be set up with a maximum of five women in a year. But that can be money well-spent for South Korean men working blue-collar jobs in more rural parts of the country who can have a difficult time finding South Korean wives.
Some people have expressed concern about how the two countries’ vast cultural differences play out when these men and women adjust to life together in such marriages.
“North Korean women see South Korean men on TV dramas and imagine that their husbands will be romantic and take care of them, while South Korean men think that North Korean women are obedient. Once these fantasies are broken, both parties can end up disappointed and hurt,” researcher Lim Soon-hee tells the Journal.
But compared to the tribulations of a starving existence in a wintry, dictatorial abyss, I guess dealing with problems that come up in a marriage don’t really seem all that terrible by comparison.