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Getting Married in Korea?
« on: August 10, 2014, 06:15:41 pm »
Sorry if there has been a topic, or numerous topics on this previously. :P

How long does it take to actually take to get marriage papers done in Korea? I am American, he is Korean. Can it be done within a day? My fiance and I are going to visit my family in the U.S next month and we arrive back in Korea with one weekday left before I am due back at my school. Is it possible to do everything in a day if we get to the U.S embassy before they open and wait to be the first in line?

Our wedding celebrations aren't until later this year but as we have plans of heading to the U.S next year, and with the wait times as long as they are (6-8 months on average?), we realize that it's probably best to get paperwork started sooner rather than later.

Also, about witnesses - How does that work? I read a blog somewhere about two English teachers getting married and just having 2 random people from immigration sign the papers but I don't know if just they got lucky. I ask because we aren't based in Seoul and his parents are quite busy, so it would be best if we didn't have to have them come all the way up to Seoul for some paperwork if at all possible.

Any help would be wonderful. Thank you!


  • Ley_Druid
  • The Legend

    • 2469

    • February 17, 2011, 08:36:33 am
    • Shinan-Gun, Jeollanam-Do, South Korea
Re: Getting Married in Korea?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2014, 08:39:17 pm »
Welcome to the club. I just got "married" on July 31st, and I will tell you my tale.

First of all, for being legally married in Korea, it is kind of a same-day process. In Korea, the wedding is not exactly marriage. Marriage is a legal status, and you have to go to a city office to get registered. You can expect to have the paperwork processed in five business days.

Here is what I did as an American.

First, I had to make an appointment at the embassy to obtain the "Afidavit of Eligibility of Marriage" in Seoul. That paper costs USD$50 and you basically print it out, bring it to them, hold up your hand and promise it is correct, and they sign, and you are done. You need to make an appointment, but once you are inside, you just take a number and wait. It takes about 30 min all together. Some people said to go as early as possible, and that is what I did. However, I inverted two of my passport numbers, so I had to go back and get it fixed, and I was there around 11am, and there were no people waiting.

After that, we headed to the Jongno-Gu-Cheong 종로구청 where they have an international marriage counter. When you submit your papers there, you are technically married. That is all. There is no fee to get married. However, to get the marriage license in person, it costs 200won, yeah, like $0.20 or you can print it online for free, without the official stamp.

In order to get the marriage license, you have to wait the five or so business days. They said that they would text me when it was done, but they didn't. We had to call them up.

So with that being said, getting married in Korea is really easy, HOWEVER, getting your spouse a visa for the US is a real pain if you live outside Seoul. I live on a tiny island off the coast of Mokpo, and they aren't sympathetic or helpful at all. They are open only weekdays, generally for the application, it is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays, but they also take off all national holidays of both South Korea and the United States, so you won't be able to get anything done on Chuseok or 8.15 or any other day like that. You have to check the internet and fill out four forms plus pick up for additional forms from the Gu-Cheong again, and have them translated. It takes time.

For our witnesses, we had my wife's younger brother and his girlfriend. My mother-in-law was also there. My wife said she didn't think that they have to be Korean, but you need to witnesses who will sign for you. If you don't know anyone in Seoul, just ask on Waygook if anyone can meet you there to help you. Maybe you can treat them to a meal or something? Just an idea.

As for the timing of him getting a visa, six to eight months is kind of fast, even here in Korea. On Waygook, the time seems rather fast, but on the Korean forums that my wife visits, it is more like eight to twelve months, for the application in Korea and about twelve to fifteen months for the application to the US office.

Getting married in Korea will be just a couple hours or less, that isn't a big deal. As for applying for the visa for him to come to the US, he will have to wait those five business days to get the marriage license, which means that is the shortest time that you can wait to apply.


Re: Getting Married in Korea?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2014, 09:27:40 pm »
Thanks for the in depth answer Ley, and congratulations on your marriage! ;D

I've been looking at a lot of blogs recently for the Marriage Visa process and it does seem extremely complicated. Every website seems to have different information on exactly what is required when you send in the application. I've too have noticed that my fiance gets quite different information on Korean websites, especially in regards to things like wait times and bonafied marriage evidence. :rolleyes: I think I've found a comprehensive list though and am going to follow that information listed on that site. I'm lucky in that I work at a pretty relaxed school so if I needed a day here and there to go to Seoul for Visa related things I don't think it would be an issue, but it's still going to be a long and frustrating road, I can already tell.

http://www.visajourney.com/content/i130guide1

Thanks again, and if anyone else has personal stories it's always nice to hear about various experiences!


  • thedsr
  • Veteran

    • 150

    • August 31, 2010, 07:19:43 pm
    • Gimpo
Re: Getting Married in Korea?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2014, 09:52:22 pm »
The first person that replied is spot on.  It's pretty quick and easy.

For getting the spouse visa, it seems more complicated than it really is.  Check out the thread here. http://www.waygook.org/index.php/topic,58891.msg482285/topicseen.html#new
Read it all the way through, and then read it again.  Everything you need to know is in it.  I've read it at least 4 or 5 times all the way through. 

It was our choice to take so long, but our process from wedding date to VISA acceptance was a year.  You can't get it too fast, or else your health check will expire before you get to the US, it's only good for 6 months.  If we were in a rush, the whole process was totally doable in 4 months.  So take your time, get everything you need.  They are definitely going to need some tax receipts to prove you filed, those might take the longest for you.  Good luck, again read the thread here on waygook.  There is even one post that has a downloadable form to fill out to translate all the certificates, so you can save  a bundle on that.  Good luck.  It's not fun, but it's not too hard either.


  • hucks3
  • Explorer

    • 6

    • August 10, 2014, 09:41:19 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Getting Married in Korea?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2014, 10:02:11 pm »
What do you think about the annoying and bluff wedding custom?, such as 혼수 which means you've got to give some amount of money to your parents-in-law or extremely expensive ceremony, foods, etc.

I've always thought you guys would think that's stupid to do this custom by yourselves if you weren't born and raised in South Korea. The whole give and take meaningless ceremonies are not for couple at all I reckon.


Re: Getting Married in Korea?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2014, 12:30:45 pm »
Well, my future in-laws aren't expecting my fiance and I to give them any money. In fact, they have specifically told us not to. They also aren't expecting us to buy his relatives new 한복, which is another thing couples usually do. Basically we're having a wedding ceremony, and that's enough for them and his extended family. His parents are pretty laid back people and understand that for one, we don't have a ton of money since we are still relatively young, and we are a mixed culture couple. His family doesn't expect everything to be done 100% the Korean way. I think I am very lucky that he has a family like this. They are very accepting and understanding. Also, they have known about me since day 1 and happily approved of us living together when we moved back to Korea together, even if all the neighbors did not. I've dated Korean guys in the past and you just don't find Korean in-laws like that very often in my experience, and he's the only son too.

On the other hand, I also don't expect my future in-laws and family to follow any American custom 100% either, especially when we are in Korea. I have been exposed to the Korean culture for quite a few years now, and so they know that I understand and try my best to follow Korean culture and customs as well. I think a healthy balance of things is best, and it seems they agree.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 12:46:21 pm by rococobean »


  • hucks3
  • Explorer

    • 6

    • August 10, 2014, 09:41:19 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Getting Married in Korea?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2014, 10:31:45 pm »
That's really nice of them. Lots of inter-racial couples are having a hard time since South Korea are not fully open to diversity, I hope you'd pull through it.


  • Ley_Druid
  • The Legend

    • 2469

    • February 17, 2011, 08:36:33 am
    • Shinan-Gun, Jeollanam-Do, South Korea
Re: Getting Married in Korea?
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2014, 12:26:09 am »
Well, my future in-laws aren't expecting my fiance and I to give them any money. In fact, they have specifically told us not to. They also aren't expecting us to buy his relatives new 한복, which is another thing couples usually do. Basically we're having a wedding ceremony, and that's enough for them and his extended family. His parents are pretty laid back people and understand that for one, we don't have a ton of money since we are still relatively young, and we are a mixed culture couple. His family doesn't expect everything to be done 100% the Korean way. I think I am very lucky that he has a family like this. They are very accepting and understanding. Also, they have known about me since day 1 and happily approved of us living together when we moved back to Korea together, even if all the neighbors did not. I've dated Korean guys in the past and you just don't find Korean in-laws like that very often in my experience, and he's the only son too.

On the other hand, I also don't expect my future in-laws and family to follow any American custom 100% either, especially when we are in Korea. I have been exposed to the Korean culture for quite a few years now, and so they know that I understand and try my best to follow Korean culture and customs as well. I think a healthy balance of things is best, and it seems they agree.

That's cool. We are in a similar boat, in many ways. My father-in-law passed away in May, and he was the only one who would have opposed our marriage, but as he was in the hospital, I came and visited him, and in the end, he wished us the best.

We also are not expected to give her mom anything in particular, but we do look out for her, as she was a stay-at-home wife. We think we have her settled in for a couple of years, and we will do a Hawaii wedding in May and then we will do a Korean traditional wedding probably in 2016. We already signed the papers, so it isn't like anyone can say "no" and her mother and brother were 100% supportive. The only thing is that her mom doesn't speak any English, so I have to use Korean, and she is a fast speaker. Thankfully her brother is fluent in English, so there is no communication difficulties for me when one of the two are with me.

It is good that you don't have to spend your money on buying them gifts. They probably also see it as they don't have to give you guys tons of money either, so hopefully it is a win-win for all.

Good luck!


  • shostager
  • Super Waygook

    • 256

    • November 06, 2012, 06:08:10 am
Re: Getting Married in Korea?
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2019, 08:10:56 am »
Sorry to revive a dead thread here, but I have an appointment to go in next week to get my affidavit, but there's nowhere online to print it out, at least anywhere official that I've seen (American citizen).

When I made my appointment, there were only three options for "Reason": 2 were passport related, so I went with the third ("Request notarial and other services not listed above").

So, 2 questions: 1) Did I choose the correct "reason" option for my appointment, and 2) Is there anywhere for Americans to print out / fill out the affidavit beforehand, or do we just need to get it at the embassy?


  • shostager
  • Super Waygook

    • 256

    • November 06, 2012, 06:08:10 am
Re: Getting Married in Korea?
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2019, 12:21:52 pm »
Ok, to answer my own question: they have the document there, they give it to you, you leave the line to fill it out, then cut back when you're done.

New question: What date "counts" for your marriage? We applied today, but my bf/husband is adamant that the marriage isn't officially registered until a week later (March 4th). I know that processing takes a week, but wouldn't the certificate reflect the day that you applied to be married (Feb 25), and not just the day that processing finished (Mar 4)?


Re: Getting Married in Korea?
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2019, 12:24:20 pm »
When I applied for mine, it only took maybe 2 days and the certificate says the date of application.