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.
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.