Thursday, May 12, 2005

trouble for young men with dual citizenship

Many Koreans are concerned about the harsh conditions their conscripted soldiers endure. The young men of Korea, around university age, must do somewhat more than two years of military service. They typically do so unwillingly so 'encouragement' while in uniform is extreme. That is to say, cruel and unusual training techniques are not, in fact, unusual.

Naturally, this makes families even less willing to have their sons do military service and has spawned an unusual kind of travel option; travel, typically to the US, to give their child dual citizenship. When a male with dual citizenship is in his late teens, he then chooses whether to keep his Korean citizenship and do military service, or apply to give up his Korean citizenship.

The Korean government is now fighting back and next month may not accept the applications to renounce citizenship.

Today, a huge number of men have applied to renounce their citizenship before the new law takes effect.

From the Times:

Hong Joon-pyo, representative of parliament, is upset:

``The nationality affairs office should conduct a
strict examination on nationality abandonment,
and should not approve the cases suspected to
be for avoiding military service,'' Hong said.

``I'll initiate another bill to treat children who
give up Korean nationality as foreigners and to
deprive them of rights to have education and
medical insurance in Korea,'' he added.

I've known of the problems with military service for several years now but they didn't particularly concern me.

I have heard from some Koreans of terrible treatment their brothers endured while in training. I let it go because Koreans need to solve their own problems while we Canadians have problems of our own.

Then I married a Korean. Her brothers didn't mind military service so much; they found it easier than farmlife.

Well, I'm suddenly concerned again. I will be the father of a boy this July. I need to find out his citizenship options and I hope he has options.

I'm not against military service but I hope that if my son does his service, it will be his choice.


GI Korea said...

I doubt 20 years from now when your son reaches military age that the mandatory service requirement will even be around. North Korea may still be around but I can see the ROK Army turning to an all volunteer force by then.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry-my wife and I checked, and biracial kids are exempt--a legal acknowledgement of the racial hazing that would likely occur if our kids joined the ROK army.
They're lised along with "the disabled" as exempt from service.

kwandongbrian said...

Thanks for easing my mind, you two. I don't know if I like the term 'disabled', though!