High court rules gov’t can deny citizenship

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High court rules gov’t can deny citizenship

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Justice Ministry holds authority over denying citizenship to foreigners even if they meet necessary legal requirements, court officials said yesterday.

An ethnic Korean man living in China, identified only by his surname Kim, entered South Korea on a 60-day F-1 visitor's visa in 2003 but could not leave the country after suffering a stroke.

He has remained here ever since and sought to become a naturalized Korean citizen in 2008. According to Korean laws, a foreigner residing in the country for at least three years can apply for Korean citizenship.

The Ministry of Justice, however, refused to accept his request, and Kim brought a lawsuit before the court.

"The Nationality Act does not mean that the ministry must grant citizenship to a foreigner who meets the requirements, and it cannot be concluded that the foreigner obtained the right to be granted Korean nationality," the court said in a verdict.

A lower court had ruled in favor of the plaintiff, ordering that the Justice Ministry approve Kim's request.

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