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Court says drunk driving not bar to citizenship

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Published : 2014-05-13 20:57
Updated : 2014-05-13 20:57

Seoul court on Tuesday ruled that the government should overturn its decision to prohibit a Chinese man from becoming naturalized because of a drunk driving conviction in 2006.

A 55-year-old Chinese man surnamed Lee requested Korean citizenship in April 2012, but had been turned down by the Justice Ministry.

The ministry said the decision was based on the grounds that he does not meet the qualifications required of those seeking Korean citizenship, which is to “have orderly behavior.” It took issue with his drunk driving, for which he was fined 700,000 won ($684).

“Other than the drunk driving, the court found no other issues that will hinder Lee from becoming a member of our (Korean) society,” the Seoul Administrative Court said in its ruling. It pointed out that the offense was relatively minor and did not cause damage to other people.

In a separate trial, the court ruled in favor of a 50-year-old Iranian who sued the head of the Seoul Immigration Office for not allowing him to extend his stay in Korea.

The plaintiff, who has been running a business in the country since arriving in June 2004, was denied an extension in August. The authorities pointed out that he was caught illegally importing meningococcal vaccines that he acquired during his travels to Saudi Arabia.

Although the court recognized the severity of his offenses, it said the man was not aware at that time of the Korean law that prohibits importing vaccines without health authorities’ permission. In addition, the court said deportation is likely to result in the man losing his livelihood. 

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)

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