Ask Aikyz Kojogeldieva why she married Jin Sang-Yoon and the word “love” is not part of her answer.
“I’m an orphan. I had no place to live so I lived with relatives. I could not find a husband and I had to struggle for money every day,” said Kojogeldieva, a journalist who, at 32, feared she was running out of time to find a partner. “I felt hopeless.” She and Jin, who traveled to Kyrgyzstan from South Korea expressly to find a bride, married on February 26 in a small ceremony in Bishkek with her friends.
Kojogeldieva is one of an increasing number of Kyrgyz women registering with private marriage agencies to find a foreign husband. The women are looking for stability and a way out of poverty; the men tend to be seeking a devoted spouse. Since the agencies started appearing in Bishkek about five years ago, South Korea, of countries outside the former Soviet Union, has become the most common source of grooms. Bilateral political and cultural ties between the two countries have strengthened over the past two decades.
To read the full story
Dina Tokbaeva is a freelance journalist based in Bishkek.