[EDITORIALS]Be Firm on Overseas KoreansIt is fortunate, however belated. The Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the Overseas Koreans Act was unconstitutional. The rule would appease, at least a little, the 2.5 million Koreans in China and the former Soviet Union who have complained of discrimination under the law. If we recall the fact that the Republic of Korea was established as the successor to the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai, it is shameful that we have discriminated against the descendants of the people who went over to China to fight for our country's independence from Japanese colonial rule.
The Constitutional Court allowed until Jan. 1, 2004, for the government to rewrite the law. However, the matter is very complicated. The government should hurry and come up with alternatives to harmonize principles with realities. We must overcome many obstacles to revise the law.
Some people worry that diplomatic conflicts with neighboring countries like China might erupt. But many countries have laws favoring special groups or nations. China, too, aggressively favors overseas Chinese. Some countries do not stop at giving favor to their people living overseas. They even allow dual citizenship, attaching great importance to bloodlines.
Accordingly the government should be firm, treating objections as intervention in domestic affairs, if countries like China try to put pressure on us with regard to the revision of the law. In addition, the government should endeavor to develop logic that can persuade other countries that our policy to favor overseas Koreans is not based on a closed nationalism.
There is a practical concern that Koreans in China can disrupt our labor market. And some people publicly wonder if, in the era of globalization, we really ought to have a special law that distinguishes overseas Koreans from other foreigners and seems to favor the Koreans.
The revised Overseas Koreans Act should achieve such goals as improving the system for allowing overseas Koreans to stay in Korea and permitting them some property rights, corresponding to what the law initially was meant to do. At the same time the law should be revised in a way to minimize the problems that would inevitably accompany the revision.