Decision To Lift Korean Marriage Ban Still Unexplained

Scant information was available yesterday to shed any light on the decision to lift the ban on marriages between South Koreans and Cambodians.

On Wednesday, Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state at the Ministry of the Interior, said that the ban–which came into affect early last month–was due to be lifted.

Yesterday, however, other government officials either did not know about the ban’s being lifted or were unavailable.

Chheang Theara, Cabinet chief at the Foreign Ministry, said he was not aware of the marriage ban being lifted.

“I did not know about that,” he said, before referring questions to Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong, who could not be reached. Other government spokesmen were also unavailable.

On March 5, the government informed the South Korean Embassy in Phnom Penh that it had stopped accepting applications for marriages between South Koreans and Cambodians.

At the time, the Foreign Ministry said the decision had been made because of the Sept 30 arrest of a Cambodian woman who was later convicted of trafficking up to 25 women to South Korea. The woman is currently serving 10 years in jail.

It was the second time that the government had banned marriages with foreigners.

In 2008, the government imposed an eight-month ban on marriages between Cambodians and all foreigners following a report by the International Organization for Migration that raised concerns about the large number of Cambodian women being married off to South Korean men through unregulated marriage brokerage agencies.

According to the report, the number of Cambodian-South Korean marriages jumped from 74 in 2004 to 1,759 in 2007.

A person from Korean Embassy said no one was available to answer questions during the Khmer New Year.


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