The Easy Way to Get Married in South Korea [2021]


Not sure how to get married in Korea?

Marriage between Koreans and non-Koreans is becoming more common.

There are a few things to know before tying the knot. Don’t worry though, it’s pretty easy.

This guide will show you how to make it happen!

How to Get Married in Korea

Can I get married in Korea?

Marriage in Korea is a civil procedure.

Koreans normally have a separate wedding ceremony at a wedding hall, hotel or church.

Before or after the ceremony, the couple visits city hall or a district office (구청) and registers their marriage (혼인신고). The ceremony is actually considered more important than registering in Korea!

It’s also possible to have a beautiful South Korean traditional wedding ceremony and register in your home country. It gives you an excuse to throw a quirky and fun party called hahm too.

Seoul City hall
Seoul City Hall is an exception. Check out Jongno-gu Office (종로구청) instead for marriage registration.

Do I need a visa to get married in Korea?

There’s no special visa required to have a wedding ceremony in Korea. Keep in mind that since it’s a civil ceremony, you need to file for a marriage license separately.

After marrying a Korean, you can obtain an F-6 visa that allows for long-term stay and employment.

Benefits of getting married in Korea

Getting married is a big decision that should be taken seriously. Doing so in South Korea does have its advantages.

After marrying a Korean, you can:

  • get an F-6 visa that allows for long-term stay
  • get a job anywhere in the country
  • start a business
  • apply for joint household healthcare and pay less than 120,000 KRW a month
  • get local currency you can spend at stores in your city

How many international marriages are there in Korea?

International marriages are increasing every year in Korea. In 2019, 23,643 international couples (a Korean citizen and non-Korean) got married.

The majority of transnational marriages are between Korean men and Vietnamese women, followed by Chinese and then Thai.

What is the average marriage age in Korea?

What is the average marriage age in Korea

As of 2019, the average age at first marriage is 33.37 for Korean men and 30.59 for Korean women according to KOSIS.

Almost half of my Korean friends are not married yet.

Also, my acquaintances in Seoul are getting married way later than those in my countryside hometown.

This is probably because housing prices in Seoul or 수도권 (metropolitan area) are ridiculously expensive.

As a trend, more and more Koreans are choosing a 비혼주의 (non-marriage) lifestyle.

What do I need to get married in Korea as a US citizen?

What do I need to get married in Korea as a US citizen

In summary, you need:

  1. Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage (혼인요건 증명서)
  2. Korean translation of it (혼인요건 증명서 번역본)
  3. registration of marriage (혼인신고서)
  4. your passport
  5. Korean partner’s ID card

For American and Korean couples, US citizens should make an appointment, visit their embassy and obtain an Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage, which costs 50 dollars and is valid for 3 months.

You’ll also need a Korean translation of the Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage.

Many websites suggest to get it notarized, but any Korean can do it.

Just make sure to include your Korean partner’s (translator’s) name, phone number and signature at the bottom.

Check out some affordable Korean translators below.

The next document you need is a Registration of Marriage. Your Korean partner should be able to fill out the form.

It’s recommended to print it, fill it out, and get the info and signatures of 2 witnesses, which can be anyone including parents, before you go to the district office (구청).

Lingua Asia_registration of family relation_2021

Once it’s done, you’ll receive a Certificate of Marriage Registration (수리증명서) and be registered with a Korean marriage certificate (혼인관계증명서) after 3-5 days.

How much is a wedding in Korea?

Koreans spend 200,000,000 KRW (about 164,621 USD) on average for marriage.

The majority of this, about 180,000,000 KRW goes to housing. But, you need at least 400,000,000 or 600,000,000 KRW to get 전세 in Seoul.

The rest of the budget is for the wedding hall (13,000,000 KRW), 스드메 or studio photo, dress, makeup package (3,000,000 KRW), 예물 or wedding present given by the bride and groom to each other (13,000,000 KRW), 예단 or wedding present given by the bride to the groom’s family (15,000,000 KRW), 혼수 or articles essential to a marriage ceremony, usually furniture (11,000,000 KRW), 신혼여행 or honeymoon (5,000,000 KRW).

Now, younger generations tend to reduce unnecessary formalities and vanity to minimize costs, skipping 예물 and 예단.

Also, the trend of small weddings set by celebrities is helping reduce the price.

Who pays for a wedding in Korean culture?

In Korea, the groom normally pays for the house, which costs the most. Since housing prices are really high in Korea. The groom’s parents often have to pitch in.

The conflict with 시댁 (in-law family) begins here.

Now, Korean couples are trying to buy their houses together to minimize the interference of in-law families.

On the other hand, most brides pay for all the furniture (혼수). It’s common for Korean brides to fill up the house.

For everything other than house and furniture, there’s an unwritten rule for brides and grooms to pay equally. This includes the wedding ceremony and honeymoon.

Do Korean wives take their husband’s name?

No. Korean wives keep their maiden name.

However, when a couple has kids, their children will.

This became a bit problematic as the divorce rate went up in Korea. If the ex-husband doesn’t pay child support or visit for a long time, the mother can file a claim to change her kid’s last name to hers.

Although not every case gets permission from the judge to change last names.

After remarriage, children can take their stepfather’s last name, which is more common.

What to bring as a gift to a Korean Wedding?

What to bring as a gift to a Korean Wedding

Close friends of the bride and groom will give something for the home like a talking rice cooker or TV before the wedding.

Everyone else can bring cash in an envelope to the wedding(no one actually brings gifts). The amount can vary from 30,000 KRW for acquaintances to 100,000 KRW for old friends.

25 One-of-a-kind Korean Gifts

Learning Korean

Guided conversation is the fastest way to get fluent in Korean. Pimsleur takes you from 0 to conversational in 90 days. You can try Pimsleur here for free!

FAQ

How do I change my Korean spouse’s surname when we get married?


In general, Koreans can’t change their names on a Korean passport.
Instead, you can add “spouse of _(spouse’s last name)” next to the last name when you make a new/renew Korean passport at a government office (구청/gucheong).
(When you apply for a green card or citizenship, you have a chance to change your spouse’s last name.)
In order to add your spouse’s last name on your passport, you need to bring your ID card, 1 passport photo, copy of your spouse’s passport, your existing passport, money to renew your passport (50,000 won).
You don’t need to bring a marriage certificate (혼인증명서) because a gucheong officer can check it on their system.
Once you’re at the gucheong, you need to fill out a basic form for applying/renewing your passport, and an application for name change.
Simply add “배우자의 영문 성 추가 희망” as a reason for name change.
Just make sure to call and double check which documents to bring to your gucheong before you go.

Did we miss anything?

Getting married in Korea isn’t a difficult process if you’re willing to jump through a few hoops.

There are cultural differences that you’ll want to be aware of, though the gap is narrowing as Korea becomes more westernized.

Feel free to ask a question in the comments or share your experiences.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this article that provide us a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only endorse the best language learning tools we use ourselves. Find out more about our code of ethics.

4 thoughts on “The Easy Way to Get Married in South Korea [2021]”

  1. Thank you for this. I have a question. In Western countries, we often change our name when we get married. That name change happens on the Marriage Certificate. However, I went today with my wife (who is Korean) and asked the government office (고정) about when/where I should put the new name. The office said they can’t put the new name on the Marriage Certificate until it is on the passport. But this seems wrong since the name on the passport cannot be changed until you show the marriage certificate. So at what stage do I need to change the name or is there another process I need to follow.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Robin, that’s a great question.
      In general, Koreans can’t change their names on Korean passport.
      Instead, you can add “spouse of _____(spouse’s last name)” next to the last name when you make a new/renew Korean passport at a government office (구청/gucheong).
      (When you apply for a green card or citizenship, you have a chance to change your last name.)
      In order to add your spouse’s last name on your passport, you need to bring your ID card, 1 passport photo, copy of your spouse’s passport, your existing passport, money to renew your passport (50,000 won).
      You don’t need to bring a marriage certificate (혼인증명서) because a gucheong officer can check it on their system.
      Once you’re at the gucheong, you need to fill out a basic form for applying/renewing your passport, and an application for changing your name.
      Simply add “배우자의 영문 성 추가 희망” as a reason for name change.
      I hope it answered your question. Just make sure to call and double check which documents to bring to your gucheong before you go.

      Reply
  2. Dear Minjung

    I am a Malaysian currently working and residing in China. My girlfriend is Russian will be going to Korea to study at a local university in Seoul. I intend to visit in Seoul end of this year on a business trip and stay on to get married with her while I am there. Please let me know what are the requirements and what documents we need to get married and also can we engage your organisation to handle all matters relating to our getting married.

    Right now I have the following documents but please advise what more I need and how I could get the documents translated and notarized :-
    1. Passport
    2. Valid Marital Status Certificate issued by the National Registration Department of Malaysia in English ( Single Certificate)
    3. Original Decree Nisi of Divorce (in Bahasa Malaysia)

    My girlfriend is single and has also a SIngle Certificate

    Thank you very much and hope hear from you soon

    Reply
    • Dear Charles,
      Congratulations! You should be able to get married with those documents. In general, notarization isn’t necessary, you just need the Single Certificates translated into Korean.
      I recommend going to Jongno-gu office (종로구청), since many international couples get married there and they have a dedicated window for foreigners.
      To be safe, you and your fiancé should contact your respective embassies in Korea for advice on the requirements.

      Best of luck!

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Robin Cancel reply

Lingua Asia