[EDITORIALS]Brotherly love and the lawIt is not an everyday affair when 5,000 Korean-Chinese living in this country collectively submit applications for Korean citizenship, then begin a mass hunger strike. These are our brethren, and they have come to their native land seeking a better life. But the problem is that most of them are here illegally. Of those who applied for citizenship Thusday, only four were legal residents. Collectively granting them Korean citizenship could cause diplomatic discord with China. Because of this, the government is unable to find an adequate solution to the problem.
The Korean-Chinese claim they deserve to be considered nationals of the Republic of Korea under the constitution, or under a legal decree issued by the interim government of South Korea in 1948. They further argue that because they never abandoned their Korean nationality, it is wrong to deny them citizenship. They say that when diplomatic relations were restored between Korea and China in the early 1990s, they were not given a chance to choose their nationality, so their basic rights under the constitution were infringed.
The Ministry of Justice sees that they acted to evade the crackdown on illegal foreign workers that is scheduled to begin Monday. Not only are illegal residency and the recovery of Korean citizenship separate matters, if Koreans living abroad enter Korea legally, they can renew their two-year stay without limit. Also, under the new implementation rule of the Act on Korean Nationals Abroad, whose adoption was notified in September, the scope of Korean nationals abroad will be broadened from those who emigrated to China after the government establishment in 1948, to those who left after implementation of the household registration law in 1922.
To prevent a rush of illegal residents and confusion in the labor market, the government plans to bar those F-4 visa holders from employment in simple labor. The problem of Korean-Chinese has two sides: the law and brotherly love. We must come up with a solution with which we can embrace them as our brethren while complying with the law. A voluntary exit with a guarantee of re-entry is one possible solution.
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