Singing your way to Korean citizenship

October 16, 2014


By Kim Se-jeong

Any foreigner seeking Korean citizenship must be able to sing Korea’s national anthem during a naturalization interview.

The Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of the Ministry of Justice, which declined to grant a woman born in China citizenship in 2010, citing she couldn’t sing the national anthem. She also failed two other tests during her interview.

The woman, surnamed Choi, filed a suit with the court, demanding a reversal of the decision.

“We found the interview criteria and the interviewers’ evaluation were fair. Not only did Choi fail to sing the national anthem, she also failed two other tests. Therefore, we find there are no grounds to call the ministry’s decision unfair and illegal,” said a judge.

Choi married a Korean man in 2004, and applied for citizenship in 2010.

The naturalization process has two tracks.

For marriage immigrants like Choi, it takes two years to apply, and an applicant must pass a face-to-face interview. For other immigrants, an applicant should wait five years to apply and pass both a written test and an interview.