&#91EDITORIALS&#93Don't punish the children

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[EDITORIALS]Don't punish the children

Clause 1, Article 781 of the Civil Law code will finally be put under the gavel of the Constitutional Court of Korea. The provision forces children to keep the family names of their biological fathers even after their mothers remarry.

A brother and sister, teenagers who have different family names than their father's, petitioned against the constitutionality of the clause, and the Northern Branch of the Seoul District Court accepted the case yesterday. "There are grounds to believe that the clause violates the constitution because it is against the principle of gender equality," the court said.

A bill that allows children under age 7 to adopt the family names of their stepfathers passed the Legislation and Judiciary Committee at the National Assembly three years ago. But it has been shelved while lawmakers worry about what those who oppose the bill think. We expect the petition to be an opportunity to shorten the suffering of children subject to the legislation. We also hope the constitutional court will make a wise decision that is in line with today's trends.

The frustration of families whose children have different last names from their step- fathers runs deep. Reportedly, many are compelled to consider emigration to other countries. The number of remarried couples is on a steady climb these days, along with escalating divorce rates. And domestic adoption is also increasing. If stepfathers and step- children have different surnames, they have to live while publicly announcing that they are not biologically related.

Korean society cherishes blood ties. People turn cool eyes to children who have different family names from fathers who live with them. Think about what happens. Remarried mothers reportedly beg teachers at their children's schools to just use first names when calling on their children; adoptive families sometimes first register the children's death and then make birth registrations.

Society must not punish twice the children who already have to endure not living with both parents who gave birth to them. That is what a mature society does.
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