A noncommercial collection of information about citizenship, dual citizenship and multiple citizenship

[Please refer to How to Read a Country Entry for help interpreting this material. It was produced prior to March 2001 as part of a US government report entitled Citizenship Laws of the World. The accuracy and depth of these country listings varies significantly, and some information may be incorrect. At best, this page presents only part of the story for a particular country. Additional information for this country may be available in Country Information]

KOREA, SOUTH (Republic of Korea)

CITIZENSHIP: Korean citizenship is governed by the Nationality Act of December 13, 1997, later amended.

BY BIRTH: Birth within the territory of the Republic of Korea does not automatically confer citizenship. A person who is born in the Republic of Korea of unknown parents. An abandoned child found in the Republic of Korea is recognized as born in Korea.

BY DESCENT: A person whose father or mother is a national of the Republic of Korea at the time of the child's birth. Child whose father is a Korean national is automatically considered a Korean citizen regardless of the child's place of birth, even if the father died before the child was born.

BY NATURALIZATION: Naturalization falls into two basic categories: Acknowledgment and General Naturalization.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Laws concerning Acknowledgement are generally invoked when there is some form of blood tie or marital bond involving a citizen of the Republic of Korea. Requirements for citizenship through Acknowledgment vary if the petitioner is a minor or a foreign wife. All petitioners, including minors and foreign wives, must possess no foreign citizenship or must renounce the foreign nationality within 6 months. They also must have resided within the Republic of Korea for at least three years.

If the person is a minor (according to the laws of the former home country), their mother or father who is a Korean national must acknowledge them. Acknowledgement by the parent of the child is a prerequisite to naturalization. It is also required that the Korean parent make a simultaneous acknowledgement of their own Korean nationality.

A foreigner whose spouse is a national of the Republic of Korea may obtain permission for naturalization if they have been married for 3 years and domiciled in Korea for at least one consecutive year.

GENERAL: Specific conditions apply when there is no blood or marital tie. Under this circumstance, Korean citizenship will be granted upon the fulfillment of these conditions: Person has resided in the Republic of Korea for five years or more. Person shall be of majority pursuant to the Civil Act of the Republic of Korea. Person shall be of good conduct. Person must have the ability to provide an independent livelihood. Person must have a basic knowledge of the Korean language and understand Korean customs. Person must obtain permission of the Minister of Justice.

DUAL CITIZENSHIP: NOT RECOGNIZED. A person who has had the nationalities of both the Republic of Korea and a foreign country by birth shall select one nationality before their 22nd birthday.


VOLUNTARY: To renounce citizenship, contact the consular office. A processing fee is required. The embassy will process the forms through Korea.

INVOLUNTARY: The following are grounds for involuntary loss of Korean citizenship: Person acquires the citizenship of a foreign spouse or adoptive parent, or any other voluntary acquisition of foreign citizenship. Person has obtained an annulment or divorce and their Korean citizenship was acquired through marriage. Person, after six months of Korean citizenship, has still not renounced previous citizenship.

ANY QUESTIONS concerning citizenship, or requests for renunciation of citizenship, should be directed to the address below:

The Embassy of the Republic of Korea Consular Office 2320 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008

Embassy Telephone: 202-939-5600 Consular Telephone: 202-939-5661/5653 or 202-939-5657 Embassy Fax: 202-797-0595 Consular Fax: 202-342-1597


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