FFWPU human trafficking is despicable

Human trafficking in the FFWPU / Unification Church is despicable. Here is one Filipina’s story of her slavery in the US at the hands of Korean leaders.

Lydia Catina-Amaya

Lydia Catina-Amaya started working at a factory in the Philippines at the age of 16. She was recruited by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, also know as the Unification Church, and trafficked into the US in 1998. She was used as a slave by Korean church leaders. Her story is told in a podcast and in several articles and a conference video. When Lydia made an escape attempt, the Koreans tried to hunt her down. On her second attempt, with the help of several UC members, she got away.

Lydia, 46, is now a community organizer at Damayan Migrant Workers Association, NYC. She was born in South Luzon, Philippines

Lydia was recruited as a missionary for [the Unification Church] in the Philippines and was brought to the United States under the auspices of helping the church raise money. She spent some years as a personal assistant for church members and then was given a position as a domestic worker [in New York City] for the [Korean] director of the church. [Among other things, she looked after his three sons.]

On her work life: “They make me believe that “You are a missionary, you have to follow what I have to tell you.” So I just don’t know what to say, how to say no. I don’t know my rights. As soon as I came, they took my passport.

That was 24-hour job. I don’t have days off. I was always hungry. They didn’t give me an allowance, nothing!…. They didn’t give me a salary. I remember they gave me a coat and watches—Gucci—but they didn’t really treat me as a human being. One time I got sick, and I was told that I had a spiritual problem because I couldn’t do the same work I was doing before… It was very controlling. I couldn’t even talk to my family; I was not allowed to have a friend.”

“It was really hard to trust people again… It took me really a while to be empowered… I was traumatized, paranoid. You just need the right group and the right community. We want our survivors to know that they are safe. We can embrace them and support them.”


Lydia (in podcast): “They used my belief against me. I was trusting them because they were like religious people. I can’t believe that this happened to me in America.”

Lydia’s FFWPU / UC story is the second of the two stories in this highly recommended podcast.

(The first story is about Eudocia Tomas Pulido, known as ‘Lola’. See The Atlantic magazine feature that has stirred up a debate – link below.)

We’re Still Talking About “My Family’s Slave”

Lydia Catina-Amaya speaks at 25:30.

NPR  •  May 24, 2017

Thousands of Filipinos have been recruited by the FFWPU / UC, and even more Japanese.

It has been rumored that the family involved in Lydia’s slavery may have spent time in the Philippines and came to the US in 1992. They were active in New York City and New Jersey. They had three sons. Those details fit with what is known of Lydia’s case.

Republic of the Philippines – Office of the President. Documented Unification Church cases include women eventually sold into prostitution upon arrival in Korea.


Republic of the Philippines – Office of the President
Philippine Center on Transnational Crime



The establishment of organized crime groups in our society has become the mid-wife of another intricate web of criminality. Its wide and long-ranging threats undermine the sovereignty of states, their economic stability, financial structures and their criminal justice system. This is the transnational crime of Money Laundering which organized crime groups, from drug syndicates, arms trafficking and the other burgeoning areas of criminal activity, to perpetuate their existence, expand their operations and institutionalize their presence in a mafia type fashion.

In capsule form, organized crime groups must launder their money from their crimes for two basic reasons: First, the money trail itself can become the evidence against the perpetrators of the crime. Second, the money itself can be the subject of suspicion, investigation and seizure. Money-laundering however, has three dynamic stages:[1]

1.       Moving the funds from direct association with the crime;

2.       Disguising the trail to foil pursuit;

3.       Making the money available to the criminal once again with its occupational and geographic origins hidden from view.

4.       Trafficking in Persons

Trafficking of human beings, particularly women and children have reached an alarming level throughout the world.

In 1996, 984 Filipino women were married in a Korean sect ceremony to Korean Moonies, after being matched by a computer. A $2,000 fee was collected from the groom. Documented cases include women eventually sold into prostitution upon arrival in Korea.

The Roman Catholic Church of the Philippines tried to stop human trafficking of Filipinas by the Unification Church, which was a serious problem from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. There were court cases against the UC. 

The Philippines prohibits the business of organizing or facilitating marriages between Filipinas and foreign men. The Philippine congress enacted Republic Act 6955 or the Anti-Mail-Order Bride Law in 1990 as a result of stories that appeared in the local press and media about Filipinas being abused by their foreign husbands.

Illegal recruitment of women by the UC in the Philippines

Many of the women came from the provinces – visited by middle–men connected with the Moonies. Young daughters of farmers in Nueva Ecija said that a Caucasian man arrived in their village with photographs of Korean men looking for wives. Women who showed interest in meeting these men were told to attend a seminar run by the Moonies in Cabanatuan City. Apparently the seminar is intended to educate women about the “ideal family” as a preparation for their meeting with their prospective husbands in Manila.

Since there is legislation banning introduction agencies in the Philippines, the women were advised by their recruiter to tell authorities that their relationships with these Korean men are genuine and that they have been in communication with them for some time. For his service, the recruiter gets $2,000 from each man. This amount, according to the Philippine embassy in Seoul corresponds with fees usually asked from Korean men wanting “housemaids” and “sex partners.”

by Emere Distor

from Making the Harm Visible. Global Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls – Speaking Out and Providing Services by Aida F. Santos

“In 1994, a noticeable number of South Korean men came to the Philippines to begin their search for their Filipina brides; in 1995-96, hundreds of Filipino women were married in a mass ceremony to South Korean men through an organization called the Moonies. Protests over this wholesale of Filipinas were launched, and the case is now [in 1999] in the court in the Philippines.”

Aida F. Santos is the project director of the “pilot Project Against Trafficking in Women” currently being implemented by the Philippine Network Against Trafficking in Women. She was the Executive Director of WEDPRO, Inc., a Women’s NGO working with women in prostitution, since the early 1990s to 1998.

Moonies demanded $2,000 from Koreans who wanted to have Filipinas as “housemaids and sex partners.”

Philippine Daily Inquirer  MANILA
by Bobby Timonera


Farmers’ daughters are Moonie targets

The Moonies are combing the Philippine countryside in search of farmers’ daughters to lure into their trap.

One such innocent, Carlita, who is in her 20s, was lucky to get away. Carlita, her face covered with a towel, occasionally lapsed into tears and silence as she told reporters of her ordeal. This is her story.

Sometime in November, the sect’s recruiters arrived at Carlita’s village in Nueva Ecija and asked the women if they would be interested in marrying Koreans. Photographs of Korean men were passed around.

“OK, we’ll see if we get to like them,” the women said.

They were told to attend a seminar at the sect’s church in Cabanatuan City. It was supposedly about the “ideal family.”

Later, they were asked to wear nice clothing, were made up, and photographed. Then they were told that should authorities ask them about their marriage plans, they should answer that they have been writing to and talking with the Korean men over the phone for some time.

Of the four women recruited, only three were matched with Koreans. One was apparently dropped.

One day the women were invited to go to the church’s office in Manila in the company of Korean men. Along the way, the Koreans embraced them.

Suddenly afraid, Carlita and another woman alighted from the vehicle near the Nepa Q-Mart market along Edsa in Quezon City. Carlita being a daughter of one of the peasant leaders of the Demokratikong Kilusang Magbu-bukid ng Pilipinas (DKMP), the other woman rushed to the DKMP office to report the incident.

But their friend who was left behind was brought to the Unification Church’s headquarters at 32 Samar Avenue in Quezon City.

It was this woman who told peasant leader Jaime Tadeo of the DKMP that a Caucasian, whose nationality she did not know, asked the Koreans to pay him $2,000.

It was not known if the amount was payment for the recruitment job. But it jibed with a report from the Philippine Embassy in Seoul that the Moonies usually demand $2,000 from Koreans who wanted to have “housemaids and sex partners.”

The transaction appears to be part of the sect’s fund-raising campaign.

Tadeo, along with Carlita, went to the Bureau of Immigration office in Intramuros to seek its help in closing the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity in Cabanatuan City.

“We believe they are just using their church as a front for illegal recruitment,” Tadeo said.

UC mass wedding of 1,000 couples probed for recruiting prostitutes, nannies


The mention of prostitutes in the newspaper article below is confirmed by:

Republic of the Philippines – Office of the President
Philippine Center on Transnational Crime

“Korean sect …. Moonies … Documented cases include women eventually sold into prostitution upon arrival in Korea.”


Philippine Daily Inquirer  MANILA
by Bobby Timonera


Wedding bells set off the alarm.

Did the grooms offer to have and to hold their brides or did they offer them jobs?

This is what the Bureau of Immigration is trying to find out after the “mass wedding” held last January 23 between mostly South Korean men and nearly 1,000 Filipino women.

The exchange of “I dos,” the bureau suspects, may be an operation to illegally recruit domestic helpers and prostitutes.

Immigration Commissioner Leandro I. Verceles Sr. said his office will observe with “extreme caution” in approving the departure of the Filipino brides. He also ordered investigations into the suspicious weddings.

“This could be a case of mail-order-bride-in-reverse operation which is illegal under our laws,” the commissioner said.

The mass wedding of 984 couples at the Philippine International Convention Center was supposed to be only a religious rite and thus has no legal effect, Verceles pointed out.

It was under the auspices of the Seoul-based Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity whose members are also known as the “Moonies.”

They are named after the controversial Rev. Sun Myung Moon of South Korea, leader of the church.

The Rev. Chung-hwan Kwak, representing Moon, blessed the couples, which included people from the United States, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, but mostly South Korea.

Verceles said the Koreans probably came over for the wedding ceremony when immigration agents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) prevented 300 Filipino women from departing last month. They claimed to be members of the same church as the “Moonies”.

Verceles dispatched immigration agents to the wedding site to gather the names of the couples.

At the same time, he also alerted immigration personnel at the NAIA to prevent the brides from leaving while investigations are being conducted.

Citing an intelligence report from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Verceles said that the “Moonies” had previously sponsored the recruitment of a large number of Filipino women to work in Korea.

The same report said that late last year, 184 Filipinas were brought to Korea aboard a chartered plane. They were reportedly brought to a training center where they were housed for three days before being deployed as domestic helpers and prostitutes.

The Unification church said it had no immediate comment.

Not first time
It was the second mass wedding conducted in Manila by the said church. Last year, 1995, about 3,000 Filipinos were married in a basketball gym in Manila as part of a mass wedding performed by Moon via satellite from Seoul. They were among 360,000 couples married worldwide in that ceremony.

“Originally, the blessing was available only to adherents of the Unification Church,” a statement from the group said. “Now, however, anyone wanting to (can) participate, regardless of religion, race or nationality.”

Prison term
… Moon, a South Korea native, served 13 months in a U.S. federal prison on charges of tax evasion before being released in 1985. …

Catholic Church helps Filipinas running from violent UC marriages in Korea

In November 2009, Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Luis Cruz warned Filipina women against marrying Korean men. He said in recent months that the Philippine Embassy in Seoul has received complaints from Filipino wives of abuses committed by their Korean husbands that caused separation, divorce and abandonment. As language and cultural differences become an issue, the Filipina women are regarded as commodities bought for a price.

Korean FFWPU leaders made lots of money from “selling” hundreds of pure, faithful, Filipino sisters

Morpheus (former FFWPU / UC member):
“I was on a staff that helped organize picture matchmaking in the late 1990s. Rev. Moon would come in and match all these young Filipino sisters to older Korean men who were not even members. I’m not sure Rev. Moon was aware of the wheeling and dealing that would go on behind the scenes. Many of these farmers and land owners would mortgage their farm to be admitted to these picture matchings. The Philippine Government complained. Discovered later that Korean leaders made lots of money this way.” (22nd April 2015)

“Filipino people hate the Unification Church for selling off Filipina women to Korean men.”

“I recently met several Filipino people, and when I told them I was raised in the Unification Church, they were concerned. Their knowledge of the Unification Church is of young people in the Philippines on the street, selling rosaries and Catholic paraphernalia, hiding their Unificationist identity. Apparently Moonies over there are known for being young and being controlled by church leaders. This is a well-accepted fact in their country. Moonies are also known for their fasting, rejecting food till they reach their fundraising quota. Also, all these Filipino people, none who ever belonged to the church, told me that Filipino people hate the church for selling off Filipina women to Korean men.”

An extradition treaty meant Moon could have been charged with illegal recruitment and incarcerated in the Philippines. The UC then smashed the windows of the Philippine embassy in Seoul.

Violence by the Unification Church
– Republic of the Philippines Files Diplomatic Protest with Seoul

MANILA – The government has filed a diplomatic protest with South Korea after the Philippine Embassy in Seoul was damaged in a rally staged by members of the Unification Church, whose members are known as Moonies.

The Embassy filed the formal protest with the Korean foreign ministry on orders of Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo Siazon. The embassy also asked for tighter police protection for its staff.

Based on the report from Seoul, demonstrations were held in front of the embassy by Korean members of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (HSA-UWC) on Feb. 13 and 14.

The demonstrators were able to cross police lines and smashed the windows of the embassy building.

The embassy said Korean policemen assigned to keep the demonstrations peaceful did not do anything to prevent the protest action from getting out of hand.

The demonstrations were spurred by the filing of charges with the Department of Justice by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against the HSA-UWC leaders for alleged violations of the mail-order bride law.

The NBI said the sect leaders were involved in illegal recruitment of Filipino women under the guise of “marriage” with the Korean nationals.

Immigration Commissioner Lenadro Verceles earlier banned the members of the sect who participated in the “mass wedding” from re-entering the country.

He also placed in the immigration’s hold departure list close to 1,000 Filipino “brides” of the “Moonies” to prevent them from leaving for South Korea.

Verceles said that the “mass wedding” performed by the sect was merely a ploy to bring Filipino women to South Korea to work as domestic helpers or prostitutes.

Verceles also described the mass wedding as illegal and unauthorized, saying that the celebrants did not have the authority to perform the ceremony as required by Philippine law.


… A 31 October 1996 GMA-7 Radio-Television Arts Network report states that an extradition treaty was signed between the Philippine and South Korean governments; members of the Unification Church, including its leader, Reverend Sun Myong Moon, could then be charged with illegal recruitment and incarcerated in the Philippines.
source: Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

Church Organization and Its Networks for the Filipino Migrants:
Surviving and Empowering in Korea

by Toshiko Tsujimoto

Filipino diaspora is indeed a global phenomenon. Their living and working conditions have been much studied, as the number of overseas contract workers (OCWs) increased. The policies of the Philippine government as well as the host governments have also been examined. In contrast, the activities and role of nongovernment organizations (NGOS) have received little attention, especially those of the church. While the efforts for the protection of human rights and promotion of welfare can be observed among the migrants themselves, the presence of the Catholic church has been particularly significant in many parts of the world. The church is an indispensable organization for Filipinos in their spiritual as well as secular needs.

This essay focuses on one such church-based center in Seoul, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center for Filipino Migrants, also known as the Filipino Catholic Center, or FCC, and especially pays attention to its support function. The FCC is organized and managed by Filipinos. I aim to show how Filipino migrants cope and deal with their concerns by utilizing support networks. …

Filipina Brides Who Got Married to Koreans under the Unification Church
Since February 2000, more than 300 Filipino women who joined a religious group, the Unification Church, and got married to Korean men, have been landing at Kimpo International Airport, and quite a large number of the women are running to the FCC to ask for help almost every day.

When talking about how they got involved in the religious group and came to Korea, they say their friends or coworkers in the Philippines asked them if they wanted to have Korean husbands. When they are recruited, they are never told about the Unification Church. They undergo a seminar in each chapter of the church, and then they are matched by the church to Korean men. if they like each other, they attend a mass wedding in Manila with hundreds of other couples. Korean men visit Manila for two to three days to attend the mass wedding, and they cover all the expenses for the wedding plus airfare of the Filipino women to come to Korea.

When the Filipino women arrive in Korea and start to live with their husbands, the women face many problems, like cultural differences, language barrier, and relationship with their mothers-in-law. Violence from their husbands is a particularly common and serious problem. Usually, their Korean husbands are not well educated, live in the countryside, and are generally farmers. Life in the countryside and work in the farm as well as the family life with the husband or mother-in-law seem to be a difficult experience for Filipina to accept.

Filipino women come to FCC with various problems and the most common case is violence from their husbands. There is no solution to this problem so far, and FCC is giving shelter and documenting evidences. FCC also asks for help from the Korean Catholic church regarding this problem.

from pages 125 and 144 of the book Filipino Diaspora: Demography, Social Networks, Empowerment and Culture – Edited by Mamoru Tsuda (2003)

Korean UC Reverend takes $10,000 from a farmer for finding him a Filipina wife.

The farmer was probably not a member of the Unification Church.

Extract from a dissertation on Marriage migration of Filipina women who marry Korean men.
by Minjeong Kim (2008)

Costs for Marriage
One of the critical issues that may have a long-lasting impact on the relationship between Filipinas and their Korean husbands and/or parents-in-laws is the misinterpretation of monetary costs for marriage. Wang (2007) argues that there is a different social logic behind the traditional arranged marriage and the commodified arranged marriage. In traditional arranged marriage, the groom’s and the bride’s families exchange gifts and dowry money, creating bilateral social relationships between two families; but, in commodified arranged marriage, only the groom’s family gives money to a mediating agency, part of which may go to the bride’s family upon the agency’s discretion. Thus, the market exchange between the agency and the groom’s family creates a unilateral transaction between the groom’s family and the bride’s family, resulting in the misconception that views the bride as commodity and legitimating the authority that Korean family members imagine they have over new brides.

Most Korean husbands and parents-in-law consider the payment as the general marriage cost they would have spent for marriage in any case, and in many Filipina-Korean marriages, this cost does not have a considerable impact on subsequent familial relationships. Blatant mistreatment or restriction from parents-in-laws may be exerted, like in Sheryl’s case when Korean families previously had a failed experience with Filipina wives.

For Byeong-woon’s family, that makes a living by rice farming, the 10 million won (US$ 10,000) that they saved for marriage with a Filipina was not a small amount. Before he left for the Philippines, he was picture-matched to a Filipina who the Unification Church said was an elementary school teacher. He made an initial payment of $2,000 to the Church for the preparation of the wedding, but right before his departure, the UC reverend came to him and said that the woman changed her mind (although, there is no way of verifying this) and gave him back only $1,500 because $500 was already spent for miscellaneous costs. Since his trip was planned and he thought this time was his chance to marry, he went to the Philippines and was matched to Sheryl. For Byeong-woon’s aged parents who were in their late sixties, the first failure made the prevailing image of marriage migrants (who would marry to migrate to Korea and then leave for cities) a real possibility. They did not want to take a chance of Sheryl running away because that meant the US$ 6,000 they spent for the wedding going wasted and they would need to spend additional funds to find another wife. This compelled them to keep a tight hold on Filipinas physically and financially. Furthermore when Sheryl failed to produce a son, her conservative parents-in-laws’ frustration was exploded antagonistically toward Sheryl.

Doris was also subjected to her father-in-law’s restrictive vigilance. Her husband, Jeong-sam Lee, was unemployed and his family had a small-scale subsistence farm. Jeong-sam’s father was physically disabled and their income was mainly from the allowance Jeong-sam’s mother received from Jeong-sam’s older brother for taking care of her grandchildren in Seoul. Jeong-sam’s parents thought that the only way to marry their son, who was shy and not very appealing in his appearance, was to find a foreign wife. They assembled the funds from their savings and assistance from the eldest son to find a wife for their second son. However, the first Filipina wife left for the Philippines after living with Jeong-sam for only six months. It was a disappointment to Jeong-sam and his parents. But, they could not let Jeong-sam grow old by himself so they gave it another try. He went to the Philippines to have another matching and the second Filipina wife came to Korea. But she left for the Philippines even before joining him. Jeong-sam felt like giving up, but it was the Unification Church that did not give up on him. After about a year, the UC reverend called Jeong-sam again and said that there was a Filipina in Suwon (a city near Seoul where the UC headquarter was). Jeong-sam thought he did not have anything to lose since the trip was only to Suwon. When they met, although Jeong-sam was not good-looking, his shyness appealed to Doris in some way, said she.

Jeong-sam, who found odd jobs occasionally, gave all his money to Doris. Mild-mannered and laid-back, Doris never openly complained to her husband about not working. When she found out that they could not have the baby that she had wanted so much due to her husband’s health problem, she accepted it as her “destiny.” Jeong-sam was very affectionate toward Doris and Doris, whose father left her soon after she was born, appreciated his devotion. Doris was creative and dexterous in handcrafts and decorated her home with many of her creations. However, Doris was still having a hard time with her parents-in-law. Like Pamela, she was often hurt by her mother-in-law’s rough manners and critical attitude toward her efforts. She confided that she felt relieved whenever her mother-in-law took off to Seoul. But the more serious issue was Doris’s father-in-law’s watchful eyes and aggressive attitude. He instructed that when Doris went out without Jeong-sam, she should not to be away for more than 2 hours. When she did so, he would call her and tell her to come home at once. When she had guests over, he rudely demanded to know why they were there. If she had male guests (e.g. computer technician to fix her computer), he demanded that they leave quickly, which she said embarrassed her greatly. Fortunately, Doris’s reserved personality hindered her parents-in-laws’ abuse from impaling her relationship with Jeong-sam, but their mistreatment had a malevolent effect on her experiences in Korea.

The unilateral compensation for matchmaking is a deviation from traditional arranged marriage customs. At least in my sample, the costs of marriage did not have a substantial impact on Filipina-Korean family relations, except for the cases where the financial burden on the husbands’ families was significant due to previous unsuccessful marriage attempts. However, this one-sided payment system does leave an impression of an unequal relationship between Korean husbands and Filipina wives on the brides, grooms, their families and the general population in South Korea. Making only men pay for the matchmaking service is fundamentally grounded not only in masculinist gender roles, but also in the unequal economic standing of the two countries that the brides and grooms are from. That is, individual socio-economic status, which may be higher among the women than men, is not taken into consideration. Therefore, the compensation method reaffirms the unequal relation between brides and grooms and between the countries they are from.

It might be more expedient for Filipinas to learn Korean in this situation than for their Korean family members to learn Tagalog or English. However, not only are their efforts taken for granted, but also they curtail Filipinas’ cultural citizenship – the right to maintain languages and cultures diverging from the dominant ones (Glenn 2002; Rosaldo 1994). Teaching Filipinas’ children their mother’s language is seldom encouraged; so traces of women’s social and cultural identities rooted in the Philippines are only to be eliminated. Thus, their cultural citizenship is undermined. Moreover, their ethnicity and country of origin intersected with their gender and age becomes the basis to affirm their subordinate position, which [was discussed above].

… Three out of four Filipinas had more problems with their husbands (e.g. alcohol problems or bad temper) than with their in-laws…

Gendering Marriage Migration and Fragmented Citizenship Formation: “Korean” Wives, Daughters-in-law, and Mothers from the Philippines

By Minjeong Kim        UMI Number: 3327489


This dissertation research examines the ways in which Filipina migrants who travel to marry South Korean farmers become part of the transnational migration stream, and explore how this movement reinforces and challenges gender relations in the local-global dimension. Based on the extensive qualitative data, this ethnographic project looks at the processes in which Filipinas and Korean men marry, followed by women’s migration, and women’s settlement processes with focus on their interpersonal dynamics within families, social activities in co-ethnic and inter-ethnic communities, and institutional experiences, especially regarding to their citizenship formation. By incorporating previous marriage migration theories based on the global political economy with feminist theories on patriarchal ideologies and systems, reproductive labor, and citizenship, this study contributes to explaining how gender roles play a significant role in Filipinas’ and Korean men’s decisions to be engaged in cross-border marriages and how Filipinas’ reproductive labor is important in accounting for their membership in their new families, communities and the state. Furthermore, it argues that Filipinas’ status as mothers is critical in their formation of Korean citizenship, which, however, is fragmented due to their class and racial status as well as the global standing of their country of origin in international hierarchies.

Many non-UC Korean men and Filipinas are recruited or urged by local UC members and matched through UC ceremonies

“… 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 farmers committing suicide out of the frustration of not providing offspring, which is an important duty of filial piety. But of course, these media reports did not mention how many farmers are from low-income households due to government’s de-emphasis of agricultural industry. …

Farm bachelors marrying international marriage migrants have also been an issue in Japan and Taiwan before this occurred in South Korea, and now with the rigorous promotion by numerous introduction/wedding agencies, the absolute number of urban clienteles surpassed their rural counterparts in these countries. In rural areas, the Unification Church has played a crucial role in promoting international marriage. Though many Korean men and Filipinas are not the Unification Church members, they are recruited or urged by local UC members and matched through the UC ceremonies.

For my study, I entered rural communities because the inflow of marriage migrants has steadily increased in rural areas and to examine a different impact of globalization in rural areas which have often been excluded from the globalization literature.”


UNESCO Report: Korean-Filipino marriages under the UC sparked controversy and animosity

Exploring Transnational Communities in the Philippines
Philippine Migration Research Network (PMRN) and Philippine Social Science Council (PSSC)   2007 report

edited by Virginia A. Miralao and Lorna P. Makil

page 37
… It should be noted that similar occasions for personal contacts between the two nationalities in much earlier periods came with the transfer of Korean wives to the Philippines in the 1960s to join their Filipino husbands who had fought in the Korean war; and the mass Han-Filipino weddings sponsored by Korea’s Unification Church in the late 1980s through the mid 1990s. But these involved far more limited numbers when compared to the inter-people contacts being generated by today’s Korean migration to the Philippines. Among Filipinos moreover, the Han-Filipino marriages under the Unification Church sparked more controversy and animosity than harmony in Philippine-Korean relations.

Although the Philippines and Korea have been long-time allies in the Cold War and share the same commitment to democratic values and to market-oriented economies and have other parallels in their national histories, some references have been made to underlying differences in the culture, psychology and temperament of Filipinos and Koreans. In his remarks at the 1998 Conference on Philippines-South Korea Relations, Suh Yong-Hyung, Minister Counselor of South Korea’s Embassy in Manila, makes mention of how Korea’s colonial and war-time experiences may have developed traits of “militant aggressiveness, regimental rigidity and hastiness” among Koreans, whereas Filipinos seem to exhibit more “friendliness, flexibility and open-mindedness.” Hence, even as the new Korean migration will increase interpersonal contacts with Filipinos (i.e., with Filipino tutors, teachers, class/schoolmates, landlords, business associates, etc.), this is not entirely without the potential for conflict. But given the increasing value placed on pluralism or multiculturalism in today’s globalizing societies, Koreans and Filipinos alike may find it more comfortable to be just themselves, appreciate their differences and co-exist.


United Nations report:  Perspectives on Gender and Migration (2007)



This is an important United Nations document – very relevant to UC members. Suggested reading for members before marrying an oriental spouse.

“Forced marriages can also come in the form of group weddings through the Unification Church’s “matching” practice, as well as through commercial agencies. In these cases, the woman is not given enough time to decide if there is mutual sympathy and understanding between her and her partner.”

from pages 84-90


A. Commercialization of international marriage

In general, women migrating through international marriages are known to face various difficulties. This also applies to female migrants in the Republic of Korea. Furthermore, they may face further complications owing to the unique situation of the Republic of Korea.

Today, international marriages are achieved in various forms and it is not easy to generalize the discourse. However, one of the most serious problems is the commercialization of marriages by certain international marriage agencies and religious groups. These marriage arrangements are selected mostly by economically marginalized Korean males who are unable to secure Korean female spouses and, therefore, choose international marriage as a solution. The foreign females entering into such marriages are usually from countries less developed than the Republic of Korea, and this imbalance in economic standards between the countries many times leads to the exploitation of these female migrants because of unequal gender structures, discrimination and the violation of their human rights

(see figure 3). Link to report

Furthermore, the marriage agencies frequently provide advertisements directed toward female candidates that have some implications of human trafficking, such as “she will never run away” and “deferred payment system”. Also, many agencies deceive the male spouse by describing the female marriage candidates as “loyal to the family and obedient to the husband”, when in fact the female candidates are independent and wish to work rather than stay only in the domestic sphere after marriage. At the same time, to convince the female candidates to marry, the agencies provide false information on the financial status of the male spouse and create fantasies of a bountiful life to hasten the marriage process.

The females seeking to migrate to the Republic of Korea are exposed to the dangers of receiving false information regarding their future spouses, illegal activities, trafficking and other human rights violations imposed by the international marriage agencies. Moreover, even if they safely marry and immigrate, they still face such difficulties as not being acknowledged as citizens and being prevented from receiving welfare benefits. Their limited communication abilities and limited access to information make the situation worse. The risk of facing poverty, as well as distrust and abuse from their Korean spouses and families alike, further complicate their lives. In addition, the female migrants may be exposed to racial prejudices mainly because they are from “underdeveloped countries”.

B. False information regarding the husband candidates and the rapid marriage process

The most frequently noted problem by female international marriage migrants is the fact that in many cases they did not receive accurate information about their spouses. In a survey, 1 out of every 4 or 5 female migrants replied that the information she received regarding the spouse before coming to the Republic of Korea was false. In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 37 per cent of female international marriage migrants reported that they had received false information concerning their spouse’s personality, including his mental health; 28 per cent had received false information about his income; 21 per cent about his property and 20 per cent about his job (Seol and others 2006).

Among international marriages, there are cases in which the female spouse is unaware of the male spouse’s mental health problems before making the final decision to marry, and after she learns the reality and attempts to cancel the marriage, the agency demands a large penalty for breaching the contract, so, as a result, she is forced to go ahead with the marriage. Forced marriages can also come in the form of group weddings through the Unification Church’s “matching” practice, as well as through commercial agencies. In these cases, the woman is not given enough time to decide if there is mutual sympathy and understanding between her and her partner.

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C. Family abuse

D. Insecure nationality

E. Economic difficulties and unemployment

F. Racial prejudice and the social isolation of female migrants

G. Cultural maladjustment and one-sided demand for cultural assimilation