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Court rules ban on dual citizenship constitutional

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Published : 2014-07-03 15:50
Updated : 2014-07-03 15:50

The Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the current ban on dual citizenship by South Koreans is constitutional as allowing dual nationality could leave much room for abuse and confusion.  

In a unanimous 9-0 decision, the court ruled against a 72-year-old South Korean, identified only by his surname Kim, who filed a petition claiming the ban violates his fundamental human rights. He became a permanent resident in the United States back in 1984.

"Allowing dual citizenship would complicate the process by which the country controls immigration and open the possibility for abuse by those seeking to avoid taxes and compulsory military service," the court said.

Under the Article 15 of the Nationality Act, South Koreans who voluntarily acquire a second citizenship must relinquish their South Korean citizenship.

"The legislative purpose of the article has been recognized as justifiable," the court said. "The societal benefits, therefore, outweigh the costs in individual freedom." 

Dual nationality has often been abused as a means to dodge conscription in South Korea. All able-bodied South Korean men must serve in the military for about two years, as the country remains technically at war with North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

The court, meanwhile, struck down a constitutional appeal filed against the Article 10 of the Nationality Act, which requires foreign nationals to give up their original nationality within one year of obtaining South Korean citizenship.

"The freedom to hold dual citizenship by foreigners cannot be considered part of the right to happiness as stated in the South Korean Constitution," the court said. (Yonhap)

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