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Korean Farmers’ Restoration of Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Nationality in Filipina-Korean International Marriage
Unformatted Document Text:  relations within the region. Within the world gender order governed by a global political economy, the cultural ideals of masculinity and femininity reproduced by commercial introduction agencies incorporate hierarchies of nation-states. In addition to age, size, educational attainment and economic power, the marriage gradient is also delineated by race, ethnicity and the global political economy. While international marriage is complicated by and complicates local practices of heterosexual pairings and social relations in the host country, its core objective is to reinforce the gender hierarchy and the traditional heterosexual family form. NATIONAL CONTEXT IN SOUTH KOREA As of 2005, 13.6% of all marriages in South Korea are between Koreans and foreign-born spouses and 9.9% of all marriages and 72% of all international marriages are between Korean men and foreign-born women (NSO 2006). That is, 1 out of 10 marriages in Korea is between Korean man and foreign-born woman. While the increase of male foreign spouses is explained by the unions between male migrant workers and Korean women (Lee 2003), the number of foreign woman-Korean man marriage has steadily increased since the early 1990s initially due to the issue of “farm bachelors.” Since the 1970s, the South Korean government promoted export-oriented industrialization and urbanization and this overrode the possibility of systematic agricultural development, leaving rural areas without good economic prospects. While strong rural patriarchal characteristics and growing employment opportunities in urban manufacturing industries drove young women out of rural areas, patrilineal and patrilocal traditions meant that a farmer’s son would stay in his hometown and look for a wife who would live with his family. As a result, farmers became the last candidate any Korean women would choose to marry. Male farmers’ difficulties in finding wives became a national issue in the 1980s with reports of 6

Authors: Kim, Minjeong.
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relations within the region. Within the world gender order governed by a global political 
economy, the cultural ideals of masculinity and femininity reproduced by commercial 
introduction agencies incorporate hierarchies of nation-states. In addition to age, size, 
educational attainment and economic power, the marriage gradient is also delineated by race, 
ethnicity and the global political economy. While international marriage is complicated by and 
complicates local practices of heterosexual pairings and social relations in the host country, its 
core objective is to reinforce the gender hierarchy and the traditional heterosexual family form. 
NATIONAL CONTEXT IN SOUTH KOREA
As of 2005, 13.6% of all marriages in South Korea are between Koreans and foreign-born 
spouses and 9.9% of all marriages and 72% of all international marriages are between Korean 
men and foreign-born women (NSO 2006). That is, 1 out of 10 marriages in Korea is between 
Korean man and foreign-born woman. While the increase of male foreign spouses is explained 
by the unions between male migrant workers and Korean women (Lee 2003), the number of 
foreign woman-Korean man marriage has steadily increased since the early 1990s initially due to 
the issue of “farm bachelors.”
Since the 1970s, the South Korean government promoted export-oriented 
industrialization and urbanization and this overrode the possibility of systematic agricultural 
development, leaving rural areas without good economic prospects. While strong rural 
patriarchal characteristics and growing employment opportunities in urban manufacturing 
industries drove young women out of rural areas, patrilineal and patrilocal traditions meant that a 
farmer’s son would stay in his hometown and look for a wife who would live with his family. As 
a result, farmers became the last candidate any Korean women would choose to marry. Male 
farmers’ difficulties in finding wives became a national issue in the 1980s with reports of 
6


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