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The Supreme Court Draws Up a New Identity Registration System

The Supreme Court Draws Up a New Identity Registration System

Posted January. 10, 2005 22:58,   


The Supreme Court Proposes a “Mixed One-person, One-registry System”-

This is a system in which each citizen has an individual identity registry showing the basic identity information of his spouse, parents and children. It has some similarities of a family registry, but it shows changes in identity information of the designated individual only.

The existing family registry under the family head system contains all personal information like the marriage and death of family members, including the family head’s spouse, parents, children and siblings. Meanwhile, a new identity registry system proposed by the Supreme Court centers on the individual and displays only basic information, like names, social security numbers, and the place of registration of his parents, spouse and children. There will be no information on siblings.

Advanced European nations like Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria have long maintained purpose-specific identity registries, like those of birth, death and marriage, separate from one’s family book or family registry.

However, the proposed idea could invite criticism on possible family disintegration. Under the system, it could also be more complicated to confirm family relationships in the case of inheritance or other family issues because there will be no master registry which shows changes in identity information of family members other than an individual himself. Moreover, it would be not easy to issue a related certificate.

Family Registry System-

The Ministry of Justice is reviewing the “family registry system” which forms an identity registry per family on top of a “one-person, one-registry” system. The proposed registry would be kept based on a unit of “household” and either gender could be registered as the head of the household. The “household” would consist of a married couple and their unmarried children. Changes in identity information of the household would be shown on the registry.

Unlike Hoju-je (a “family head” system), the head of the “household” would not have any particular authority, and women could also become the head.

With the proposed registry, it would be easier to confirm family relationships and more convenient to use data as it has a similar structure to the existing family registry based on the family head system. However, it would be hard to expect improvements in the complicated management of family registration works, such as setting up a family branch, the extinction of a family, and the creation of a new family. In addition, it would not be easy to protect personal information with the registry, which also has the potential for discrimination against children born out of wedlock.

The Justice Ministry is planning to present the government’s proposal after reviewing both its family registry idea and the mixed one-person, one-registry system proposed by the Supreme Court.


After the Justice Ministry submits its proposal, the National Assembly will conclude a final proposal based on the two proposals from the Ministry and the Supreme Court before the special session of the National Assembly. Then, it will enact an identity registry law to replace the old family registry system.

As the Supreme Court governs family registry work, it seems likely that the court’s proposal will be selected. But it is still unclear how the proposal would be modified in the National Assembly, as it is a sensitive social issue.

Even if the National Assembly approves the abolition of the family head system, it would not immediately take effect. There would be a two-year grace period after the abolition before the implantation of a new identity registration system. According to the current plan, a new system will be effective by 2007.

Sang-Rok Lee jin0619@donga.com myzodan@donga.com