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As long as there are vast economic disparities between countries, there will be people desperate (and unscrupulous) enough to do whatever it takes, including fraud and false marriages, to try to immigrate. Before its economic takeoff, South Korea in the 1970s and 80s was a major source of visa fraud and so-called GI brides, women who looked to escape the country by marrying a U.S. soldier stationed there. Others were “sold” by their families and others to soldiers to take them to the U.S. and were later forced into prostitution to pay off their debts when they landed on American soil. It is estimated that between 90,000 and 100,000 Korean women immigrated to the U.S. between 1950 and 1989 as GI brides.

ADST’s own Charles Stuart Kennedy was a career FSO who spent an extensive amount of time in Vietnam and South Korea and, as Consul General in Seoul, had first-hand experience of the extensive fraud that existed. Andrew Antippas was in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and ultimately joined the Foreign Service, where he was posted in South Korea, Japan, Cambodia and Vietnam; he discusses his attempts to address the issue of GI brides and his frustration when his efforts were thwarted.

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