Original article in Korean is at this link.

The National Human Rights Commission has adopted the opinion that the government must protect the human rights of a person left stateless after losing Korean citizenship which had been acquired through a sham marriage.

The NHRC announced on the 2nd that the matter of the rights of stateless persons had been decided in committee on the 1st and that the Ministry of Justice (법무부), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (외교통상부), and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (보건복지부) should prepare related policies.

The NHRC judged that under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, ratified in 1962, Korea must guarantee to stateless persons the same rights of employment, freedom, and health as are granted to foreigners, and that systematic legal policies must be formed to accomplish that goal.

As of April of last year, 66 persons had been rendered stateless by court judgments they had entered into sham marriages, and 33 of them are still living in Korea.

Currently, the government has granted some of them F-1 visas, which are for “stateless” people, along with foreigner’s registration cards, but the NHRC pointed out that they have not been granted the right to work.

The NHRC said: “Stateless persons who have no choice but to stay in the country because the lack of an agreement with their original countries makes it difficult to return are placed in a situation where they cannot freely leave and enter the country when a family member is very ill or passes away.”

The NHRC further argued: “Without an identification card they cannot take employment and their health is not well-protected, so even if they are ill they are denied treatment, and this represents a threat to the right of stateless persons to live.”

The Ministry of Justice announced: “Allowing persons made stateless by their sham marriages an absolute right of residence would lead to negative consequences such as greater participation in sham marriages, so stateless persons are allowed to remain in the country in that capacity and subject to certain restrictions.”

However, the NHRC responded: “In 1998, the requirement for taking citizenship was stiffened to two years after marrying one’s Korean spouse, and there were three cases of persons whose citizenship was revoked because of a sham marriage. When we look at them we see that although they are allowed to remain as stateless persons there is realistically no worry over them entering into new sham marriages.”

The NHRC recommended to the Ministry of Justice that it form systematic legal policies to ensure the rights of stateless persons in accord with international agreements, and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issue travel permits in emergency situations.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare will be advised to support the medical expenses arising from emergency situations of persons rendered stateless through sham marriages.