Globalization has blurred the concept of national borders. With increasing numbers of international marriages, the Korean society is rapidly becoming a multicultural society these days. A common pattern can be observed since the 90s, where women occupy a relatively higher proportion of the immigrant population. It is also usual that international marriage in Korea results in a combination in which a Korean man marries a migrant woman. Furthermore, much of work available to migrant women is concentrated in the certain division such as entertainment industry or domestic services. This phenomenon can be called 'feminization of migration' which is relatively new and recently recognized field of human rights.
Every situation that a migrant woman encounters can vary. However, the fundamental cause of hardships lies mostly in the migration process of the foreign bride industry. Migrant women usually receive little information or a deliberate piece of misinformation. Also, marriage brokers control foreign brides systematically by recruitment, lodging, transportation and transfer. During the process of an international marriage, a single Korean man usually meet multiple women and choose one as a bride within a very short time frame. The decision is made consequentially without the consent of the woman. The cost and benefits of migration are distributed unevenly and the advertisements often contain gender discriminative and racist contents. Considering all these characteristics, International marriages through a Korean brokerage agency could be categorized as a form of human trafficking, which thereby lead to violence and exploitation of women.
State responsibility constitutes a central institution of the system of international law. The Republic of Korea has been a party to various human rights treaties including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women and Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children. Even though the rights of migrant women were not expressly stipulated in the text of treaties, the increasing use of soft law, which refers to quasi-legal instruments, extends the scope of application of law, while examining the situation of each country. Meanwhile, for the implementation of international human rights law, States should take steps to promote, protect and fulfil fundamental rights by accepting suggestions by the committees and reflecting the advisory opinions in government's policies. The committee expressed concerns on the issues of migrant women in Korea and suggested the state ratifying the protocol of human trafficking. Thus, the Republic of Korea has ratified the protocol and enacted the so called 'Marriage Brokers Business Management Act'
The purpose of this Act is to supervise marriage brokerage business as well as to protect users. The legislation has been made in conformity with international law accepting the principle of protecting human rights. However, the law regards international matchmaking as a contractual relationship and fails to protect migrant women in the process of international marriage, which is de facto human trafficking. Human Trafficking Prevention Act could be an alternative to supplement or amend existing legislation. Although the bill has not been passed, it suggests the direction of improvement in that it focuses on victims' safety, recovery and protection of rights.
The Republic of Korea has already signed and ratified various human rights instruments. But the government still needs to take legislative or other measures to ensure effective implementation of human rights law. The purpose of international human rights law is not the adoption of the conventions but the protection of human rights. In order to protect migrant women, the contents of the treaties adopted by the government should be transposed into domestic law. Also, for effective implementation of laws, government should adopt appropriate policies and enforce laws. There are various issues related to multicultural families. But the infringement of human rights in the process of international marriage and its brokerage need to be dealt with serious attention since it can lead to other related problems even after the process. Thus, protecting migrant women and contributing to creating a sound marriage culture would be a great starting point to address the issues of multicultural families.