“A lot of Korean men marry Vietnamese women because they prefer them over women of other countries,” said Rep. Lee Hae-chan, chairman of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea during his meeting with a high-level Vietnamese delegation Monday.
Lee was quoted as saying when he met the delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung at his office. The remarks were enough to be interpreted as objectifying women in general, condescending to Vietnamese women, most of whom marry Korean men through international brokers, and, perhaps worse, ranking migrant brides by Korean men’s preference.
According to a report by Oh Young-jin on KoreaTimes, Lee didn’t apologize and there were no reports that the Vietnamese delegates protested.
However, the remarks triggered an outcry from other parties.
“Lee tried to divide some 300,000 biracial households in Korea by race and nation of origin,” the Party for Democracy and Peace said through its spokesman. “We deplore the ruling party’s leader for having such a narrow and distorted view about our diverse families.”
The conservative Bareunmirae Party said, “We demand Lee officially apologize.”
The progressive Justice Party said,” Many Vietnamese brides come to Korea in their early 20s, not even knowing how to speak Korean, and get pregnant, being separated from their families.
“Despite their effort to sustain themselves with a sense of duty to their children, much of Korean society looks down on them,” the party said. “Lee exposed that insensitivity when he said what he thought were pleasantries during his meeting with the Vietnamese delegation.