The ministry said it enacted the measure to reduce “abnormal” marriages arranged on the fly with foreign spouses, where it said a man and woman are paired in five days or less.
The budget for supporting the so-called “multicultural families”–defined as a South Korean national, a foreign spouse and their children–has soared, contributing to stricter visa requirements, the justice ministry said.
In 2013, the multicultural family budget stood at 123.2 billion won, a more than a 20-fold increase from 2007, the ministry said.
Language and cultural differences are cited as the main reasons for problems in such marriages.
Foreign women sent to Korea through matchmaking services and their children also often face social exclusion, experts say.
To respond to the problems that foreign women and their children face, South Korea has tried to offer more support, including shelters for domestic abuse victims and language courses.
A 2009 study by the gender ministry says over half of foreign spouses married to Korean citizens were divorced or widowed within five years.
“(The new restrictions) will be a chance for people to think twice about it,” said Cho Young-hee, a researcher at IOM Migration Research & Training Center in Goyang, South Korea.
In a crackdown on South Korea’s mail-order foreign bride businesses, South Korean citizens looking to marry foreigners must from April show they can communicate with each other and financially support themselves.
Seoul’s Justice Ministry this week said that those applying for a resident-by-marriage visa must pass a government-approved Korean language proficiency test and provide proof of income at over 14.8 million won (,750) in the past year.
A couple can opt out of the language requirement if they show they communicate in a different tongue or if they have any children, the ministry said.
They are also exempt if either partner or family members can show the couple can live without monetary trouble.