Open the dual doorA nation is comprised of three factors: territory, sovereignty and the people. In this day and age, where people are well aware of the shortfalls of colonialism, it is hard to imagine a country invading another or depriving it of its sovereignty. So, the only option left for a country to empower itself is to strengthen its own manpower.
Therefore, it is very positive that the new administration is addressing the issue of dual citizenship for Koreans.
The National Competitive Council yesterday recommended that the president legalize dual nationality in order to prevent “brain drain,” in which our talented minds adopt foreign citizenship. The committee rolled out a plan to hold a public hearing by July and to submit the bill to the National Assembly by November.
Few countries officially allow their citizens to have dual citizenship.
But many advanced nations, including the United States, Taiwan and many European countries, basically allow the practice by not punishing or making life difficult for those with two passports.
Israel, for instance, does not require foreigners seeking Israeli nationality to abandon citizenship in their own countries, a move likely aimed at helping Jews around the world work for Israel more efficiently and with fewer restraints.
But Korea’s immigration and citizenship laws are far too stringent. Koreans who obtain foreign citizenship have to give up their Korean citizenship, and foreigners obtaining Korean citizenship must give up their original nationality within six months.
It is no overstatement to say that such overly strict laws made more than 170,000 people give up their Korean nationality over the past 10 years, while only some 50,000 people obtained Korean citizenship.
Who knows how many talented scientists or other professionals were left with no choice but to abandon their Korean nationality because of these arcane laws?
Who knows how many foreigners have given up an opportunity to work for Korea because of the laws?
We hope the government comes up with a new law to reduce disadvantages and punishments imposed on those with multiple citizenship, regardless of their original nationality, as long as the applicants fulfill the key requirements imposed on Koreans, such as military service.
By doing so, we will be able to open the door to a new global Korea, and to the more than 7 million Koreans living abroad.