Dual citizenship debateThe government has announced that it will consider allowing dual citizenship only to those Koreans that have finished their mandatory military service and to foreigners who are experts in certain fields. This is to block the constant outflow of highly qualified domestic talent and to attract highly skilled foreigners from abroad. We have pointed out that the world is engaged in a constant battle to attract highly qualified talent. Whether highly trained Koreans or foreigners, if they lose the opportunity to work here because they have been tagged with dual citizenship, it will be a great loss with regard to national interest. The government’s decision to consider allowing limited dual citizenship is a great decision in terms of securing highly trained human resources.
The current law on citizenship dictates that those who have obtained dual citizenship before the age of 20 have to relinquish one of their citizenships before they reach the age of 22. If a person obtains dual citizenship after the age of 20, he or she must give up one of the two citizenships within two years. Non-Koreans that have obtained Korean citizenship need to give up their original citizenship within six months.
Whether or not that citizenship was obtained at birth, this country does not allow dual citizenship. This is why the country is failing to attract Koreans that have obtained dual citizenship or foreigners that want to work here. If a Korean with dual citizenship wishes to work here, it is very hard for that person to get a job here unless he or she holds Korean citizenship and relinquishes the other citizenship. In many cases employers ask for Korean citizenship.
The negative view on dual citizenship is deeply rooted in our society. This is because dual citizenship has been used to avoid military service and because people have been going overseas to obtain foreign citizenship. This explains why the government wants to allow dual citizenship only to men who have finished their military service, and is thus approaching the issue carefully.
Under this rule, though, women might not benefit. This could result in an imbalance in attracting qualified personnel from both sexes and could block the entrance of qualified ethnic Korean women from overseas.
The number of ethnic Koreans living overseas amounts to 7 million. In a globalized world where traveling over the borders has become the norm, the number of people with dual citizenship is bound to increase. Thus there is a need to start open discussions in Korea on allowing dual citizenship.