Vietnamese leaps to her death holding her 2 children in South Korea

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Vo Thi Minh Phuong and her South Korean husband in a wedding photo eight years ago when she was 19

A Vietnamese woman held her two children in her arms as she leapt from the 18th floor of a building in South Korea on Friday, killing all three.

Yonhap news agency said the woman, later identified as Vo Thi Minh Phuong from the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang, died on the spot with her seven-year-old daughter and three-year-old son after jumping from an apartment building in the southern port city of Busan.

Police said the 27-year-old woman and her husband, 47, had recently filed for divorce after eight years of marriage.

The husband Kim Yeong Hwa said he failed to stop the jump because he had been locked behind a door at the time.

Police said they will look into an alleged suicide note written in Vietnamese the woman left and will question the husband further.

Phuong's parents, who had been informed by the Vietnamese embassy in South Korea, immediately traveled to Ho Chi Minh City to fly to Busan but they became ill on the way due to their understandable shock and had to return to be hospitalized near Hau Giang.

The woman's brother, Vo Huu Hoa, told Thanh Nien on Saturday that his sister's marriage only recently turned sour after her husband accumulated major debts.

Hoa said Phuong was 19 when some friends introduced her to a marriage brokerage service in Ho Chi Minh City who promised to land her a South Korean husband. She returned a month later saying one man had accepted her.

A "simple" marriage ceremony was held one week later and she left for Korea with her husband, Hoa said.

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Hoa said Phuong visited home once every five years afterward and sent money to help him build a proper house for their parents.

The parents recently traveled to Busan to stay with Phuong and her husband for more than a year.

Soon after they returned to Vietnam on October 16, Phuong called them saying her husband had mortgaged their home in order to invest in a joint business which failed and caused him to lose all the money.

He then asked for a divorce. Phuong told them that in one of their many arguments, the husband had choked her.

Hoa said Phuong last called home on November 21.

He said his family wanted Korean police to investigate the cause of death.

Over the last two decades, poverty has driven thousands of poor women, especially those from the Mekong Delta, to marry older men from South Korea who were unable to find wives at home.

Statistics from Korean Institute of Social and Health Affairs showed that 7,636 Vietnamese women married Korean men last year, topping the list of foreigners married to Koreans.

Vietnamese wives shared the top position with Chinese counterparts in 2010 at 9,623.

Statistics from the Korean Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City showed that around 27,500 Vietnamese women had been granted marriage visas as of 2008 and around 8,000 such visas were granted in 2009 alone.

Most of the marriages were brokered by illegal firms, which tell couples very little about each other. Many women ended up embroiled by language barriers and culture clashes, among other problems, instead of the dream lives they have envisioned.

News website VnExpress said a South Korean farmer beat his Vietnamese wife to death in May last year in front of their child, aged 19 days.

Another Vietnamese woman was killed by her Korean husband one week after their marriage in 2010, while another jumped to her death in 2008 after enduring continual abuse at the hands of her Korean husband and his mother.

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