PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia has temporarily barred its citizens from marrying South Korean men after two dozen women were sold into marriage by matchmakers — the second time the government has imposed such a ban.
Koy Kuong, a Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the ban, which was imposed earlier this month, would remain in place while the government works to ensure that South Korean men hoping to marry Cambodian women are able to first prove that they are single and don’t have a prison record.
“We want to make sure that their marriages are real marriages, not fake, and not involved with human trafficking,” Koy Kuong said.
South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun referred the question to the Ministry of Gender Equality, but phones there rang unanswered on Friday night.
In 2008, Cambodia temporarily banned marriages to foreigners after the International Organization for Migration released a report that indicated that marriage brokers were making profitable business from supplying poor Cambodian brides to South Korean men.
The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Friday that nearly 60 percent of marriages to foreigners in Cambodia involve Korean nationals, and most of them are arranged through brokers.
The latest ban comes after the March 3 conviction of a Cambodian matchmaker who arranged marriages between Korean men and 25 Cambodian brides.
Koy Kuong said he did not know how long the ban, which applies only to South Koreans, would last.
Cambodia has banned the marriage brokerage business since 2008. Despite the ban, the number of Cambodian women marrying Korean men more than doubled from 551 in 2008 to 1,372 last year, Yonhap said.
Associated Press writer Kwang-tae Kim contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea.