North Korean women find love in South Korea

North Korean women find love in South Korea 2
North Korean women find love in South Korea 2

She escaped North Korea more than 10 years ago.

Kim’s boyfriend, Lee Jeong-sup, initially jokingly asked if she was a North Korean spy but later reassured her that there was nothing wrong with being from North Korea.

Kim Seo-yun and her husband, Lee Jeong-sup.

Lee proposed to Kim in March and in June, the two held a wedding at a hotel in Seoul.

`In Korea, my husband is my everything. I have no other relatives. He told me that he would not only act as a husband but would also try to treat me like a parent.

Such love stories are becoming increasingly popular in Korea.

More than 70% of the 33,000 North Koreans who fled to South Korea are women.

Coming from a deprived and backward country, North Korean women often face many difficulties adapting to the dynamic, changing daily life in South Korea.

Some people say they want to marry Korean men because they think their husbands will help them navigate their new life.

`I feel like my marriage is helping me integrate into this society more deeply without having to work too hard,` Hwang Yoo-jung, 37, said about her marriage to a man.

The number of matchmaking companies specializing in pairing North Korean women with South Korean men is exploding, with about 20 to 30 companies in operation, compared to just two in the mid-2000s.

`I feel like I achieved a great achievement when I successfully matched them because I also came here alone and understood the suffering of other refugees,` said Kim Hae-rin, owner of a matchmaking agency.

North Korean women find love in South Korea

Hwang Yoo-jung’s small family.

Many women fleeing North Korea turn to matchmaking agencies, often run by defectors, to find South Korean husbands.

Kim Seo-yun also runs such a company, called Unikorea, although she met her husband, Lee Jeong-sup, at a dinner arranged by her friend.

`When I talked to her, I felt like I could develop a special relationship,` said Lee, 32, who works for a food company.

However, there still exist certain difficulties and differences in culture and lifestyle between them.

Lee said he often has to limit the use of common English loan words in Korea every time he talks to his wife.

Hwang Yoo-jung said she felt `very, very happy` when her husband, Seo Min-seok, 39, took her to a gathering of his friends, where she had to answer many related questions.

Husbands sometimes tease their wives with North Korean-themed stories.

So Yu Jin said her Korean husband often told her she was `exactly like Kim Jong-un`, the leader of North Korea, when she made family-related decisions without consulting him.

So still enjoys hanging out with friends from North Korea, who she says are often more straightforward about their feelings than South Koreans.

But not every South Korean – North Korean couple can overcome difficulties.

Ahn Kyung-su, an expert from a private institute specializing in health issues in North Korea, said some women who escaped from North Korea shared with him that their South Korean husbands often looked down on them.

For many others, having to leave their families in North Korea makes them feel sad.

Kim Seo-yun said she really misses her parents and younger sister in North Korea and hopes that one day she can reunite with them.

When her mother called in March, Kim bragged to her mother that she was about to get married to `a tall guy` who cared about her a lot.

In June, Kim’s mother called Lee and the two talked for about a minute.

`Now, my husband loves me very much. My mother-in-law treats me very well, as does my brother-in-law. It’s like I have really solid support. I feel extremely happy,` Kim shared.

North Korean women find love in South Korea

Kim Hae-rin, the woman who escaped North Korea, now runs a matchmaking company in South Korea.

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