A Seoul court ruled in favor of two boys raised by their Filipino mother in a paternity suit against their Korean father, court officials said Sunday.
The verdict marks the first time a Filipino has won a paternity suit in a local court, suggesting that thousands of others like them might be able to file paternity litigations against Korean fathers.
The Seoul Family Court ruled that the Korean man was the “biological father of the children” after looking at related DNA test results and Filipino birth certificates. The Korean father could be forced to provide financial support for the two children if the ruling holds in higher courts.
The father already had a family in Korea when he went to the Philippines sometime in the early 2000s to run a local business. He fathered two children with the litigant before going back to Korea in 2004, according to court documents. He promised to return to the Philippines, but his Filipino partner and their two sons lost contact with the man.
The mother came to Korea in order to find the father, but all she had was only a picture and a name. With the help of the Support Center for Women’s Hotline, and Tacteen, a local support group for foreign women, the Filipino mother was able to file a suit in 2012.
The Filipino woman faced a slew of hurdles in the ensuing 18-month court battle. The father refused to undergo DNA tests for fear of losing his family in Korea, until a court order went through.
Financing her fight was also a problem until a lawyer agreed to work pro bono. The Korean government also agreed to provide more than 10 million won ($9,800) in court fees according to related laws.
“The mother did not file this lawsuit for financial reasons only,” Cho Dong-shik, the litigant’s attorney, said. “She did so to bring her children to Korea.”
Studies estimate that more than 10,000 children have Korean fathers and Filipino mothers. Many of them barely know their fathers, who often leave their children without sharing the financial and emotional responsibilities of child rearing.
“The fundamental solution to this problem is a change in South Korean men’s general awareness,” Lee Hyun-sook, Tacteen’s chief, told local media.
By Jeong Hunny (firstname.lastname@example.org)