The number of multicultural marriages between a South Korean national and a foreigner dropped for six years in a row last year, government data showed Thursday.
Multicultural marriages fell 7.9 percent on-year to 21,709 in 2016, down 3.4 percent, or 753, from a year earlier, according to the data by Statistics Korea.
It accounted for 7.7 percent of the country's total marriages of 281,635 in the same year, slightly up from 7.4 percent tallied in the previous year.
The number of cross-cultural marriages has been on a steady decline since it peaked at 35,098 in 2011 as the South Korean government announced a set of measures to tighten fast-rising international marriages in 2010. Under the toughened guidelines, the authorities require higher level of Korean proficiency and certain level of income in the issuing of a marriage visa.
Out of the total, couples made up of South Korean men and foreign women took up a majority 65.7 percent last year, followed by foreign male-Korean female pairs.
Vietnamese brides took up 27.9 percent of all marriages tallied, outnumbering Chinese wives at 26.9 percent for the first time since 2008 when the statistics office started to compile such data.
The average age of such married couples was 36 years old for the husbands and 27.8 years for the wives, compared with the age of 32.6 and 30.3 for Korean-Korean couples.
Jeju Island, a southern resort island, has the highest percentage of multicultural unions with 9.8 percent, followed by South Jeolla Province with 9.4 percent and North Jeolla Province with 8.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the data also showed that the divorces of such international couples also dropped 5.8 percent to 10,631 last year from a year earlier, with their marital period averaging 7.4 years.
The birth of mixed-race children reached 19,431, down 1.5 percent on-year, while their mothers were 30 years old an average, surpassing the 30-year line for the first time.
Hwi Won firstname.lastname@example.org
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