The Busan District Court also ordered the accused to wear an electronic tracking device for 10 years after he is released. The 47-year-old Korean from the southern port city of Busan killed his 20-year-old wife, Thach Thi Hoang Ngoc, in January.
The couple had married in Vietnam in the same month, after meeting through an international matchmaking agency in Busan, which failed to check his past history of mental illness. At the time of the incident, the man, identified only as Jang, said he heard a voice encouraging him to kill his wife during a quarrel, according to the prosecution.
“He covered up his history of mental disease to marry her. He had to keep taking medicine to maintain mental stability, but he didn’t after marriage,” said judge Koo Nam-soo. “His crime was brutal and vicious. But he deeply repents for what he did.”
The prosecution sought a life sentence last month.
The case shocked South Korea, where a growing number of bachelors in provinces choose to marry immigrant brides. Vietnamese media outlets churned out reports highlighting their “daughters” abused by Korean spouses, fueling anti-Korean sentiment there.
Following the incident, President Lee Myung-bak vowed to set up a “better system so that foreign brides could live here more comfortably.” The government paid 30 million won ($25,000) to the victim’s family in compensation and launched a task force to reform the international matchmaking business.
The Ministry of Justice recently announced a set of measures to make interracial marriage safer ㅡ one of which is barring Koreans from marrying foreigners if their earning ability, mental and physical health conditions, criminal status and other factors affecting married life fail to meet strict guidelines.
More than 180,000 foreigners, mostly women from Vietnam, China, and the Philippines, currently reside in Korea after marrying locals, and the number of interracial couples keeps increasing, according to government data.