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Korean-Vietnamese Struggle to Find Origin

Posted July. 26, 2002 22:36,   


Korean-Vietnamese, who were born between Vietnamese mothers and Korean military personnel stationed during the Vietnamese War, have succeeded in acquiring the Korean citizenship via filing lawsuits asking for the determination by the court on whether or not they are sons/daughters of Korean solders.

Judge Kim Pil-gon at the family division 4 of the Seoul Family Court ruled on July 26, 2002, “The Court acknowledges the biological parent-son relationship” in a case where a Korean-Vietnamese R (30), who came to Korea as a foreign trainee, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Lee (68) alleging Mr. Lee is his biological father.

As his father Lee waives to appeal from the judgment, Mr. R is granted not only the Korean citizenship, but also heirship to Lee’s property. Mr. R was born between his Vietnamese mother and Mr. Lee who was working as an auto mechanic in Vietnam in the 1970s. In 1974, Mr. Lee and his Vietnamese wife took out even a marriage certificate. But near the end of the Vietnamese, Mr. Lee left for Australia alone, severing connections between them.

Last October, another Korean-Vietnamese Kim, who also came here as a foreign trainee, commenced a similar civil action in the Incheon District Court against his Korean father (70) and won. Kim’s father denied that Mr. Kim is his father and appealed from the trial court’s judgment. But the appellate court dismissed the appeal. Now Mr. Kim, as a Korean, works for a company.

Mr. Kim’s three other siblings, who stayed in Vietnam, filed and won a lawsuit alleging the same in the Buchon Judicial Division of the Incheon District Court, and their case is now pending in the appellate court.

Other than these, numerous similar lawsuits are being filed. For example, two Kims met their father who has immigrated into Australia with their friend’s help and filed a lawsuit in the Seoul Family Court. Their attorney Park Oh-soon said, “Korean-Vietnamese fathered not by Korean solders but by Korean workers who stationed in Vietnam during the War would probably reach 10,000 in number. The lawsuit of this kind will be increased to find out their roots.”

Jung-Eun Lee lightee@donga.com