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South Koreans call wife racket ‘regrettable’

THE South Korean embassy in Phnom Penh has expressed regret over the discovery of a human trafficking ring designed to facilitate marriages between Cambodian women and South Korean men, which prompted the government to impose a temporary ban on such unions earlier this month.

“It is regrettable that the recent case stigmatises most genuine and normal international marriages taking place in Cambodia,” Huh Jungae, a counsellor and consul at the embassy, said in response to questions posed earlier this week.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, has said the decision to impose the ban was made after a woman was sentenced on March 3 to 10 years in prison for recruiting 25 girls from rural areas and arranging for them to be married off to South Korean men for a US$100 fee.

The ban has been described as temporary, but officials have said they need to establish an effective mechanism for preventing trafficking cases before it can be lifted.

Huh also said the Korean government would continue to cooperate with Cambodian officials to combat all transnational crimes, including human trafficking.

“We are of the view that human trafficking under the pretext of international marriage … should be coped with by joint efforts of our two governments,” Huh said, adding that Korean officials would be willing to cooperate with Cambodia to address specific reported cases of trafficking.

Bith Kimhong, director of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-human Trafficking department, said his staff received reports from “many countries” about suspected traffickers, but has never received any such report from Korea.

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