Visit our new interactive Atlas!

South Korea

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

There is no publicly available government data on child marriage in South Korea.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.

There is limited information on child marriage in South Korea.

The 2017 United States Trafficking in Persons report highlights that women from China, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia are recruited for marriage to South Korean men through marriage brokers. There is no data available on whether this includes girls under the age of 18.

What has this country committed to?

South Korea has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. During its Voluntary National Review at the 2016 High Level Political Forum, the government highlighted that girls who receive a quality education are more likely to delay marriage and childbirth.

South Korea co-sponsored the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts.

South Korea co-sponsored the 2013 and 2014 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, South Korea signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

South Korea ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1984, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

South Korea is becoming increasingly engaged in advocating against child marriage. In 2017, the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) identified areas where it could increase programming to specifically target child marriage prevention and response.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Civil Code 2011 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years. However girls can be married at 16 years with parental consent.

Source

The Government of the Republic of Korea, Voluntary National Review2016, (accessed June 2018) 

 Korea Times, Korea’s role in ending child marriage in Bangladesh, [website], 2018,  (accessed March 2018) 

 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3[website], 2014,  (accessed April 2018) 

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018) 

United States State Department, [website], 2017, (accessed March 2018)

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)