About Korea > Intercultural Marriages

Family Registry Issues of Foreign Spouses

The Korea Times reported in early 2009 that a Presidential panel has advised the Ministry of Justice to change the registration system for foreign residents to help them more easily prove their family relationships.

According to the article, "The move comes as the number of multicultural families here is increasing. 'More than 160,000 foreigners emigrated here for marriage. In a bid to help improve the rights of multicultural families and their settlement, we will continue to improve cooperation with government offices,' said an official of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC). If the recommendation is accepted, foreign spouses are expected to easily prove their marriage and family relations, as family and foreign registration will have the same information. The commission suggested that a foreign registration number, English names in passports, and Korean names all be written on identification documents.

"Currently, a family relations roster under the control of the Supreme Court requires foreigners who marry a South Korean national to write their names in Korean as they are pronounced.  On the other hand, foreign registration governed by the Ministry of Justice requires them to write their names, in English, and their foreign registration numbers.  What the two documents commonly ask for is the date of birth only, the commission noted.

"The commission learned that foreign spouses have had difficulties opening bank accounts or going to hospitals since personal information could prove neither marriage nor family relations.  The commission has also offered civil services in English, Japanese, and Chinese through an online petition center at www.epeople.go.kr."

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