[EDITORIALS]Childbirth tours a disgraceThat some Korean women in the late stages of pregnancy fly to the United States to give birth is a national shame. Disguised as tourists, they take advantage of a U.S. law that grants citizenship to babies born in that country. Although presumably only a small number of Koreans take this course of action, the practice should not be dismissed, considering the impact of such behavior on the entire society.
About five years ago, pregnant Korean women started to travel to the United States to give birth to gain U.S. citizenship for their baby. As time went on, this practice of some rich people spread to the middle class. Media reports say that armies of expecting Korean mothers swarm to Guam, which allows visitors to stay there for up to 15 days with an entry visa, not to mention Los Angeles, New York and Hawaii. According to some news reports, some U.S. hospitals even hire Korean translators.
No doubt, the main purpose of the "childbirth expeditions" is to gain sons an exemption from Korea's mandatory military service and qualify children for lower tuition payments if they one day should study in the United States. In addition, when these children grow up, they can invite their parents to immigrate. Only an egocentric person would want to benefit from a child's double citizenship gained through cunning methods. The U.S. law granting citizenship to a baby born to a woman during her stay there was passed out of consideration of noncitizens who have been living in the States for a long period of time. Those Korean residents who wish to acquire U.S. citizenship should win it through proper immigration procedures.
Affluent Koreans' childbirth rush to the United States neglects their role as citizens of the Republic of Korea and gives their country a bad name in the international community. Most poor and underprivileged Koreans try to fulfill their duty as citizens. Still more, if upper-class Koreans, who should be role models, instill in their children the urge to escape from reality, the future of our society is gloomy.
We should not let Korea be known as a country whose women are scrambling to head overseas to give birth to their babies.