South Korea looking into lowering dual citizenship eligibility age

SEOUL: South Korea is considering lowering the eligibility age for dual citizenship as they are seen as capable of contributing more to the economy and also to provide overseas Koreans more support.

The Korea Times reports that according to Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, good results were expected to come out of the plan.

He said this when meeting overseas South Koreans during a visit to the South Korean community in Houston, Texas. It was part of his itinerary which also took him to three South American countries ― Chile, Uruguay and Argentina.

During his visit, he is expected to hold talks on resource cooperation and to promote South Korea's bid to host the 2030 World Expo in Busan.

In South Korea, dual citizenship is not allowed except for those who are 65 years or older. Dual citizenship is granted to overseas South Koreans who wish to return to the country in their later years with the condition that they pledge not to exercise their rights as foreign nationals while residing in the country.

The government had set the current minimum age to the retirement age in the country due to concerns that newly returning South Koreans from overseas could replace existing locals in the nation's workforce.

Overseas South Koreans have been asking the government to lower the minimum age for dual citizenship as they believe that they can contribute more to the country's development with their overseas connections. They also prefer to engage in such economic activities before retirement in South Korea.

Responding to the calls to lower the age, some lawmakers have proposed in parliament that the law be revised to meet their demands.

Ruling People Power Party (PPP) representative Kim Seok-ki, who heads the party's overseas South Korean committee, had proposed an amendment in April this year to the Nationality Act.

It calls for a lowering of the minimum age from 65 to 55 years. Thirteen other PPP lawmakers joined Kim to support the proposal and the revised bill will be discussed in a regular session of the National Assembly's Legislation and Judiciary Committee later this year.

The prime minister has also reaffirmed President Yoon Suk-yeol's interest in supporting overseas South Koreans.

"President Yoon Suk-yeol truly cares about overseas Koreans. We confirmed that we will establish an office for overseas South Koreans, which has been your long-cherished wish," said Han.

Last week, the government announced plans to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and create a new government agency for overseas South Koreans under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The move came after overseas South Korean communities continuously asked for more government support from the Yoon administration.

Earlier this year in March, a coalition of 92 overseas Korean groups held a press conference at the parliament, demanding that the incoming administration support the 7.32 million ethnic Koreans living overseas as a major government project.

They had also asked for the establishment of a government agency for overseas Koreans and legislation to reflect their voices.

Foreign Affairs Minister Park Jin said in September that the Yoon administration had made establishing an agency for overseas South Koreans, one of its 100 major government projects.

This was despite the agency not being included in the initial plans for the administration as announced by the presidential transition committee earlier in March.

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories