This article deals with the First Korean Nationality Act which was spurred by the US Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK) and enacted by the first Korean Congress. Although there seemed to be a debate on the Nationality Act before Korea was colonized by Japan, the boundary of “Korean” citizenship was cultural and self evident. The family registry (hojŏk) was a critical criteria to determine who was a Korean, though not identical with a Korean nationality. The colonial government accepted this definition, so the fact that the first Nationality Act inherited this tradition is not so surprising. However, the ambiguity over the first Korean who bestowed nationality upon descendants became problematic when the post-Cold War Korean ethnics returned, especially the ones from China returning to Korea. The Korean government tried to deal with this issue with nationality reinstallation. Later, Korean-Chinese in toto became foreigners, according to Korean Court decisions, because they became Chinese citizens after the People’s Republic of China was established in October 1949. Thus, the first Nationality Act shows a thorny issue of what the boundary of Korean nationality is, so scholars and policy makers need a new approach to this thorny issue.

“Who Are the First Koreans? The First Korean Nationality Law (1948) and Its Limits”

Jong-Chol An
2015

Abstract

This article deals with the First Korean Nationality Act which was spurred by the US Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK) and enacted by the first Korean Congress. Although there seemed to be a debate on the Nationality Act before Korea was colonized by Japan, the boundary of “Korean” citizenship was cultural and self evident. The family registry (hojŏk) was a critical criteria to determine who was a Korean, though not identical with a Korean nationality. The colonial government accepted this definition, so the fact that the first Nationality Act inherited this tradition is not so surprising. However, the ambiguity over the first Korean who bestowed nationality upon descendants became problematic when the post-Cold War Korean ethnics returned, especially the ones from China returning to Korea. The Korean government tried to deal with this issue with nationality reinstallation. Later, Korean-Chinese in toto became foreigners, according to Korean Court decisions, because they became Chinese citizens after the People’s Republic of China was established in October 1949. Thus, the first Nationality Act shows a thorny issue of what the boundary of Korean nationality is, so scholars and policy makers need a new approach to this thorny issue.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3728350
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