South Korean nationals who run international marriage agencies in the Philippines may be subject to legal punishment including prison terms, the Philippines government recently told Seoul.
According to South Korea's Gender Equality Ministry, it is the first time the Southeast Asian country has sent an official notice on the matter.
Under the Philippines' Anti-Mail-Order Bride Law, which was established in the 1990s, matchmaking agencies that connect Filipino women to foreign nationals for marriage are illegal.
Matchmaking services, however, are legal in South Korea and about 2,500 Korean nationals sign up every year in hopes of connecting with a foreign-born spouse.
Such matchmaking activities are also illegal in countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam and China, where a large number of foreign spouses in Korea are from.
"The Korean law advises those who run such businesses to follow the rules of foreign countries if they choose to work overseas," said Kim Dae-jung, a Gender Ministry official in charge of the country's multicultural policies.
"If a Korean marriage broker breaks a law overseas and we receive a complaint from the foreign government, the person loses his or her business license immediately."
The Philippine government filed its first-ever complaint in January over Korean marriage brokers operating in the country, Kim said.
Last year, more than 80 per cent of immigrants and foreign nationals residing in Korea were from Asian countries, the largest number coming from China and Vietnam.