DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.
GENERAL INFORMATION: South Korea is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between South Korea and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. American citizens who travel to South Korea place themselves under the jurisdiction of local courts. American citizens planning a trip to South Korea with dual national children should bear this in mind.
CUSTODY DISPUTES: In South Korea, parents who are legally married share the custody of their children. If they are not married, custody is normally granted to the mother unless there are known facts of inappropriate behavior, or mental or social problems.
ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN JUDGMENTS: Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable directly under Korean law. However, under Article 203 of the Criminal Code, an applicant can request recognition of foreign court orders.
VISITATION RIGHTS: In cases where legal custody has been granted and the judgment has been rendered, the non-custodial parent can petition the court for visitation rights within the court ordered decision or come to an oral agreement with the custodial parent.
DUAL NATIONALITY: Dual U.S.-Korean nationality is recognized under Korean law until the age of 22, when the dual national must choose either Korean or U.S. citizenship. Dual-national males are subject to mandatory military service in South Korea if they do not make a decision on their nationality before the age 18.
PASSPORT APPLICATIONS FOR MINORS: A person applying for a U.S. passport for a child under 16 must demonstrate that both parents or legal guardians consent to the issuance of a passport to the child or that the applying parent has sole authority to obtain the passport. This law covers passport applications made at domestic U.S. passport agencies in the United States and at U.S. consular offices abroad. Exceptions to this requirement may be made in special family circumstances or exigent circumstance necessitating the immediate travel of the child. The purpose of the new requirement that both parents' consent be demonstrated is to lessen the possibility that a U.S. passport might be used in the course of an international parental child abduction.
CHILDREN'S PASSPORT ISSUANCE ALERT PROGRAM: Separate from the two-parent signature requirement for U.S. passport issuance, parents may also request that their children's names be entered in the U.S. passport name-check system, also know as Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP). A parent or legal guardian can be notified by the Department of State before a passport is issued to his/her minor child.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS: No exit visas are required to leave Korea. However, if a parent requests through the Korean Immigration Office that a travel restriction be placed on a child, the child may be prevented from departing Korea.
CRIMINAL REMEDIES: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org.
Persons who wish to pursue a child custody claim in a Korean court should retain an attorney in Korea. The American Embassy in Korea maintains a list of attorneys willing to represent American clients. A copy of this list may be obtained by requesting one from the Embassy at:
U.S. Embassy in Seoul
82 Sejong-ro, Chongro-ku
Republic of Korea
Web site: http://www.asktheconsul.org
*The workweek for the Embassy is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:30AM to 11:30AM and 1:30PM to 3:30PM. The Embassy
is closed on Wednesdays.
Questions involving Korean law should be addressed to a Korean attorney or to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the United States at:
Embassy of the Republic of Korea
2320 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 939-5663/60
For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State at (202) 736-9090 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. You may also direct inquiries to:
Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520-2818
Fax: (202) 736-9133
For answers to general questions, please contact the Overseas Citizens Services Hotline at the toll-free number, 1-888-407-4747, which is available from 8:00AM through 8:00PM Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. holidays). Callers who are unable to use the toll-free number, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during the hours by calling 1-202-501-4444. This hotline provides OCS information to the general public and forwards callers to the appropriate OCS country officer as necessary. OCS information is also available on the web at: www.travel.state.gov. Please refer the general public to the Web site or to this toll free number during normal working hours. Persons seeking information or emergency assistance outside of these hours, including on weekends or holidays, should call 1-202-647-5225.
The Department of State has general information about arranging for consular visits to abducted children, hiring a foreign attorney, service of process, enforcement of child support orders, and international enforcement of judgments, which may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flier. In addition, the Department of State publishes Country Specific Information for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If the situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CSI for that country, the Department of State may issue a Travel Alert alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the Department of State may issue a Travel Alert or Travel Warning recommending that U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet www.travel.state.gov.