Tan Loc Island: A booming business in brides

For years, mail-order brides have been providing punchlines for jokes about engineers, computer scientists, and other men with poor social skills. Recently, though, I discovered that there is a place in Vietnam where a bad punchline has become a veritable industry.

A couple of square kilometers of land stuck in the middle of Vietnam's Mekong Delta, Tan Loc island's traditional claim to fame has always been its beautiful colonial-era houses. Over the past few years, however, it has gained even greater repute as a place where lonely Taiwanese and South Korean men can find brides.

For a finder's fee of approximately $6,000, matchmakers will set up "fashion shows," in which the village's young women compete to be chosen by wealthy men from other countries. Over the past decade, approximately 1,500 women have left Tan Loc for marriages.