New F-6 visa in South Korea due to reverse discrimination?

From April 1st of this year, new applicants for the F-6 visa in South Korea will have to pass the TOPIK level 1 test. The inviting Korean spouse should also be able to provide proof of financial ability to support a family. In short, his annual income should be 120% above the prevailing cost of living. It is currently equivalent to 14.8 million won.
To some, the new rules may infringe on one’s constitutional right to freedom of marriage. However, these new rules were proposed by the Ministry of Finance as there is fear of the soaring budget spent on multicultural families.
In 2005, the government spent 200 million for the Multicultural Development Fund for Women. When the Multicultural Family Support Program Act was enacted in 2008, the expenses rose 31.7 billion won. In 2012 the government spent 107.3 billion won and in 2013, it soared to 123.2 billion won with more than a third of the amount spent in helping foreign spouses settle. This amount does not include the support from local governments, with totals estimated at 200 billion won.

Korean government spending on multicultural families
Korean government spending on multicultural families

The amount spent in funding the multicultural families is believed to be causing a reverse discrimination towards the lower income Korean families. Last year, the government spent 66 billion won on single parent families totaling 218,000 households. This is less than half of what was spent for multicultural families which totaled 281,000 families.
I think it’s the government’s fault that they always seem to equate “multicultural” with low-income. Sometimes they seem to forget that part of the “multicultural family” is a Korean spouse, who may have the financial capability to support a family. Instead of a blanket support for all multicultural families, they could put an eligibility clause on some of their programs. This is the same as limiting government subsidies on low-income families. However, the Korean language classes should be available to those who need it. As for the visiting teacher classes for “multicultural” kids, this may be unnecessary if the child attends regular Korean day care or kindergarten. In schools, there are also special classes in Korean and Math (!) for multicultural kids. What it does, in some aspect, is to alienate the kid from the other Korean kids. Additionally, the government should stop prejudging ALL foreign spouses as uneducated. Clearly, there are many foreign spouses who have obtained higher education and they could be useful in the workplace and in the end, instead of benefiting from welfare they could be actively contributing to the economy.


  1. I was expecting this to happen. I noticed na sobrang laki n ng nagagastos ng Korean government para sa mga multicultural families. Kahit yung home visit teacher ko dati nagcomment n marami na ring koreans ang nagcocomplain dahil sa laki ng perang nagagastos ng gov’t para sa mga multicultural families at parang na seset aside na ang mga Koreans. I agree with you ate betchay, it’s the government’s fault kung bakit nagkaganito. Yung bokchigwan dito sa area nmin ay hindi magooffer ng programs para sa mga damunhwa. Khit yung korean language class tinanggal n nila. Ang balita pa yung damunhwa center dito sa dongjakgu ay isasara na by next year dahil wala n daw budget n binigay ang government.

    1. Pagkakaalam ko Dongjak-gu isa sa may magandang programs for Damunhwa. Yung Multicultural Center din dito sa Dongdaemun, hangang ngayon wala pang schedule ng Korean language class nila.

      1. Same here ate betchay, hanggang ngayon wala pa rin schedule ang Korean language class. Dati february pa lang may class na… Nakita ko nga sa website ng dongjakgu damuhwa center na ginagawa pa raw yung set of rules at process para sa mga classes(?) hindi pa ako magaling mag-korean kaya kontin lang naiintidihan ko pero ito po yung announcement:
        안내] 2014년 상반기 한국어학당 수업 일정 안내
        안녕하세요? 동작구 다문화가족지원센터입니다.
        2014년 상반기 한국어학당 수업은 여성가족부로부터 운영규정이 아직까지 하달되지 않아
        단계별 개강일정 및 수업 내용 등이 미확정 상태입니다.
        ( *본센터의 한국어학당은 여성가족부의 당해연도 지침에 의하여 운영되고 있습니다.)
        향후 개강일정 및 수업 내용 등은 홈페이지에 게시하도록 하겠습니다.
        미리 신청을 원하시면 본센터로 전화하여 접수하여 주세요.
        단계별 한국어학당이 확정 되는대로 개별연락 드리도록 하겠습니다.
        많은 관심과 참여 부탁드립니다.

  2. How about..male married to korean woman do i need to exam?i dont have time for studying i work everyday to provide my family needs in korea…i hope they excuse the male spouse for that..

    1. Hi Renante! The new visa rule is only for new applicants beginning April 1. If you’re already in Korea and working, you are exempted from the rules.

  3. I agree that “generalizing” multicultural families can be prejudicial at times. But I don’t believe that the government is at fault for creating policies that are often based on demographics. Surely, NOT all multicultural families are low-income. But the majority are low-income. A statistical datum is an empirical fact. And our personal feelings of being prejudged as a multicultural family or a marriage migrant cannot dispute that fact. Policies are made, not based on our individual circumstances. Policies are made based on the general plight of a particular group.
    But I do agree, that policies should be made with adequate “eligibility clause,” as you call it. An over broad measure can be oppressive in all cases. These ballooning welfare spending for multicultural families may be discriminatory against Korean families. And the new spouse visa rules may also be discriminatory to new well-meaning multicultural couples (regardless of income or their ability to communicate in a common language). I agree that care must be taken to ensure exceptions are adequately provided to every general rule.
    Korea in recent years is fast evolving and many of the changes in demographics caught policymakers off guard. I believe in giving the government the leeway and the benefit of a doubt. This is not a matter of fault. As I said, there is only those demographics to interpret on. This is merely a question of whether the interpretation will work or not. Whether the resulting policies are wise or not. Balanced or not. And whether these policies truly did, or will truly respond to the concerns of all stakeholders alike.

    1. Oh but it’s convenient to blame the government ;p The new visa rule on TOPIK is quite inconvenient considering that the TOPIK is only administered twice a year outside Korea. That means, the couple might have to live separately for some time before they could live together unless the foreign spouse passes the TOPIK first before getting married. I remember that when I first came here, I didn’t know Hangeul at all and we didn’t plan on having a child until a few years later. Perhaps the government should review the programs for multicultural families and limit them to those that will be beneficial for the majority. While I have enjoyed some of those benefits, the government doesn’t really have to spend money on sending multicultural families to Everland (as an example).

      1. I’m familiar with what “inconvenient” means. 😀 I’m a new marriage migrant. And I had complied more requirements than the marriage migrants a decade before. But certainly, there is something more transcendental than my own convenience.
        I’ve seen that efforts were made to provide for exceptions in these new visa rules. TOPIK is not the only way to comply with the requirement.
        Anyways, multicultural families have Ms. Lee, who as an assemblywoman, is herself a policymaker. Our future partly depends on her wisdom. It might not come as easy as it sounds but it wouldn’t hurt a bit to be hopeful about that.

        1. I blame the government for giving the multicultural family too much attention while neglecting the other sectors of society that needed more help. The last thing that we want is for the ordinary Koreans to turn on the multicultural sector for the welfare benefits it has been receiving.

  4. Not that I am against the support of the government to multicutural families like mine. But if their goal is to make the society be open to multiculturalism then therefore, they must treat the mutlicultural families like any ordinary families in this country. I actually witnessed the differences and felt unfair knowing many of my students’ parents are trying to make both ends meet to support the needs of 7 people in the family without any government support. A single mom of twins working all her days to provide and be able to send her children to hagwon without any free tour or free school supplies from the government while many multicultural centers have these programs for multicultural families.
    When the mutlicultural centers sprawl like mushrooms in different regions of the country financed by public and private organizations…it could easily be assumed that “multiciltural families” have become a market for some business people. Just like in any government, budget depends on the projects proposed. If more centers are being put up with plethora of programs servicing the same size of market, there certainly will be a bigger demand for budget. In which most of the programs can not be used in finding a streamlined jobs. Many of who I know attended the programs were not able to use the skills, which had alloted budget, they learned in finding proper jobs.
    I agree that the government must change its mindset that foreign spouses are “uneducated” to be able to be in the workforce. The truth is, many foreign spouses are choosing to work rather than learning the language and culture in a four corner rooms which I think is efficient and effective.
    However, I do agree with the new policy that foreign spouses must be able to be Korean literate before facing their lives in Korea as spouses not as a tourist. It is certainly for their welfare.

  5. Anyway,Korea is and wasn’t ready to get immigrants.Very very and so stupid projects for migrants.Specially,the project for migrants not developed yet.Korea politicians should’t complain about migrants skill education.Specially korean politicians locked themselfs these days because suddenly so huge number of migrants.They accepted us and give visa not us and they corean politicians.
    I want to know if somebody can help me with some usefull information?
    All migrants around me have kids and their kids monthly get 600.000krw for their kids education from Korean Goverment.Can somebody tell me what should I register for my kids to get theirs entitled financial suppory from Korea goverment??Your advice and help will be highly appreciated!

  6. I’ve read all the comments and have understood. It’s all true there is a big fund for the damunhwa families because the gov’t have no choice but to focus on this particular sector in the society. May nagsurvey na American employed by Korean Gov’t to make a study on the multiculturalism sa bansa . Ang sabi niya Koreans used to be top 1 sa mga contests internationally esp. sa Math, Engineering and Sciences daw for the past few years if Korea wants to stay on the top they need to take care of the multicultural families kasi according sa birthrates mas maraming batang isinisilang ang multicultural families kaysa sila na mga Koreans sa school kulelat ang mga damunhwa kids imagine kung in the next years ang magmultiply na korean citizens ay from damunhwa at hindi sila bigyan ng pansin puro kulelat na ang mga koreans niyan daw kaya pinapalaki nila ang attention given to damunhwa. Para hindi magtampo ang mga koreans ipinasakamay nila ang pagmanage sa funds ng damunhwa kaya ang daming organizations na nangalap ng mga damunhwa children na turuan daw ng korean language pati mga nanay may mga dance programs at pacontests pa at multicultural shows to show our customs and traditions para lang may dahilan to get some of the funds hindi naman nila talaga cash ibibigay eh dadaan sa jiwon centers ang pera . Yung ibang organizations ginagamit lang ang mga damunhwa kung wala yang budget na yan hindi tayo papansinin ng korean people. Maraming opportunities na sa ngayun para sa damunhwa all we need is to learn the language, their culture and traditions and have the skills and be with the society get a job. Hindi pa perfect ang Korean ko pero isa ako sa naka avail ng gracia mula sa pundo na iyan continous pa rin ang learning ko ng Korean language on the job learning kasi may sweldo na natututo pa. I Love Korea. Thank you Korea.

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