Which of the ethnic Koreans (if any) in other parts of the world would be recognized as Korean by the South Korean Government were they to try to move to Korea?
The Korean previously wrote about acquiring Korean citizenship, but major changes of law regarding citizenship and immigration happened this past December that warranted an update.
But first, the Korean must put up a big caveat, given the types of questions he received since the last post:
THE KOREAN IS NOT AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER, OKAY? Everything in this post is based on his reading of newspaper articles and a little bit of Internet search. The Korean has no idea how your particular situation might work in terms of gaining Korean citizenship. The Korean has neither the ability nor time to track down every little regulation in the immigration law that might decide your fate. A very simple Naver search for 이민 변호사 will give you plenty to go by if you want any detailed discussion.
What, you don’t know what Naver is? And you don’t know what 이민 변호사 means either? You don’t speak Korean and need help? THEN WHY THE HELL ARE YOU TRYING TO GET KOREAN CITIZENSHIP???? For God’s sake people, THINK for yourselves once in a while. Although this is not quite yet the season for “Best of the Worst 2010”, the Korean will reproduce an early entrant for it below. This is an example of stupidity. Learn from it, and stop doing it. Please.
From: Brandon C.(Emphasis added by the Korean)
To: The Korean
I have a question for you while I was reading "Becoming a Korean Citizen"
I am concerned whether I should renounce my Korean citizen or recover it...
My current story: I am a "former" Korean citizen who currently is living in Canada with a US citizenship, a Commonwealth citizenship, and a Canadian Citizenship. I have an old Korean citizenship card and passport that no longer works online anymore... My parents may have renounced mine as well...
Although I plan to recover the citizenship at one point, but I'm also concerned if I have to attend the compulsory military service in Korea that all Korean men require to do, since I am a Korean male. I'm even more concerned if I can recover the citizenship in the first place.
I am most likely going to follow the "simplified naturalization" path rather than "general naturalization" although I have a Korean vocabulary and grammar knowledge of a Jr.High school student despite me being a current high school student senior...
PS: The real reason of recovery of my Korean citizen is to continue enjoying registration and playing on Korean sites and online games and keep up with my cousins and childhood friends whom most of them are still in Korea ...
If there is a way to recover my citizenship other than military service, can you please tell me? or it must be done as a Korean male?
I do not mind living in Korea for another 3 years to get the citizenship if I have to ...
If yes, then do I have to talk to the ROK Consular General in Toronto regarding these issues or should it be done by KIA?
You want Korean citizenship because you want to play some goddamn ONLINE GAMES?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??
THIS is worth changing your citizenship over?
Alright, deep breath. Now that the Korean vented enough, let’s get down to business.
-EDIT 2/3/2010- Commenter Michelle noted that the reformed Citizenship Act did not yet pass, and she is correct. The revision was finalized at the executive branch on Dec. 22, 2009, and will be submitted to the National Assembly at the next session where it will (most likely) be enacted into law -- if National Assemblymen are not too busy fighting each other.
The most important change is that now, certain category of Korean citizens may hold dual citizenship. Korean citizens who were born into dual citizenship (e.g. a child born into Korean citizen within U.S. territory) previously had to choose one citizenship or the other when they turned 22. If they did not choose, they would automatically lose their Korean citizenship. Now, such people can hold both citizenships as long as they sign an affidavit stating that they will not exercise their non-Korean citizenship in Korea. (For example, dual-citizenship holders cannot escape paying Korean taxes by claiming their non-Korean citizen status.)
Dual citizenship also applies to adoptees who lost their Korean citizenship simply by virtue of gaining a different citizenship. Previously, if they restored Korean citizenship, they had to renounce their non-Korean one – which Ministry of Justice considered overly harsh. Now, the adoptees may restore their Korean citizenship without giving up their non-Korean one, under the same condition as above.
Non-Koreans who become Korean citizens by marrying a Korean citizen can also hold dual citizenship. Ethnic Koreans older than 65 years of age who are non-Korean citizens may also restore their Korean citizenship without having to renounce their non-Korean one, essentially holding dual citizenship. Also significant is that Chinese-Koreans who have lived in Korea for more than 20 years can hold dual citizenship under the same conditions as other dual citizenship holders.
The last category of people who benefit is those non-Koreans who fall under “high value foreign human resource”. Since the law only passed a month ago, the regulations are not set up as to exactly who count as “high value foreign human resource”. (The Korean made up that term, by the way. MoJ’s press release says 우수 외국 인재.) Significantly, these people no longer have the five-year domicile requirement – which is huge, since living lawfully in Korea for five years was the hardest part of gaining Korean citizenship.
There is a big exception to the dual citizenship rule, which is a case in which the parents deliberately give birth to a child outside of Korea such that the child will have dual citizenship. (U.S. and Canada are popular destinations.) Ministry of Justice estimates that 5,000 to 7,000 infants were born in this manner, which is more than 1 percent of all Korean newborns. Therefore, following more regulations, anyone found to have deliberately acquired a dual citizenship will not have an option for dual citizenship. There is some hint also that anyone who abuses the dual citizenship status would lose her Korean citizenship, although details are scarce at this point.
This is obviously a step taken with an eye toward the compulsory military service, since not serving the military duty is an extremely sensitive issue in Korea. In fact, the requirement for military service became more rigorous under the new legislation. Previously, a dual citizen male could renounce his Korean citizenship any time prior to age 22 to get out of the military duty. Now, the same person is not allowed to renounce his Korean citizenship unless he fulfilled his military duty if he is trying to renounce his Korean citizenship after his 18th birthday.
Other than that, the rest of the immigration system appears to remain the same – which means that Korea will continue to have a surprisingly liberal immigration policy. The Korean is especially a fan of the more open policy for foreign talent. His greatest complaint against the current immigration system in the U.S. is that it turns away people who graduated from top American colleges and graduate school, already have a job in America, and want to continue living in America. Even if the qualified non-American citizens somehow get to stay in America, their status is constantly in jeopardy, hurting American industries. Google, for example, needs a dedicated team of “immigration fixers” to make sure that their talented workers can work for them.
Currently there are around 80,000 non-ethnic Koreans who hold Korean citizenship, with 100,000 more waiting in the paperwork line. While no one will mistake Korea for immigration-liberal country like Canada, the Korean thinks Korea has taken a positive step in preparing itself for the inevitable future where more people will be living far away from where they had been born.
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.