Court approves Taiwanese man’s naturalization

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Court approves Taiwanese man’s naturalization

The Seoul Administrative Court ruled it was unjust to disallow a Taiwanese national from gaining Korean citizenship through naturalization solely because of a methamphetamine possession charge that was two decades old.

The local court stated on Sunday that the Justice Ministry’s requirement for naturalization seekers to have good moral character should be based on events around the time that the non-Korean filed for application, adding that the Taiwanese man had shown exemplary behavior ever since his conviction.

The 58-year-old, identified only by his surname Wang, was born to a Taiwanese father and Korean mother and has lived his entire life in Korea with an F-2 visa until 2002, when he was granted the F-5 visa.

Wang graduated from Korean elementary, middle and high schools. After graduating from college here, he went on to start his own business, which he still reportedly maintains.

The drug conviction came under light in July 1995, when a local court found him guilty of injecting methamphetamine, a violation of the Psychotropic Drugs Control Act, and gave him a one-year jail term and two years of probation.

In 2014, Wang applied for naturalization but was told by the Ministry of Justice in January this year that he had been disqualified due to his failure to meet the requirement of good conduct.

Wang sued the justice minister soon afterward, pressing the authority to rescind the disapproval.

“For the past 20 years, Wang did not commit a single crime nor did he fail to pay his taxes on time,” the Seoul Administrative Court said in its verdict on Sunday. “The plaintiff can’t change his past criminal record. Disallowing him to gain citizenship for the rest of his life due to that history is far too harsh.”

The court further noted that Wang, who lived all his life in Korea, should not be denied the benefits of Korean citizenship simply because of the ministry’s unrealistic efforts to maintain an ideal society.

BY YUN JAE-YEONG [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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