May 23, 2005 19:48
Son Ho-young of the boy band g.o.d., who has been at the center of controversy since his stepmother Jeong I-mae claimed he was trying to give up his citizenship to avoid military service, said Monday he was never a dual national but would give up his U.S. citizenship and apply to become a Korean national.
"What Jeong said wasn't true, but beyond questions of right and wrong, I made this decision to give something back to the citizens who have given me love and encouragement," Son said. "I plan to finish the entire process, from naturalization to enlisting in the military, within the year."
Online debate started when Jeong, fresh from a disagreement with Son's father, held a press conference on May 18 and claimed that her stepson was trying to give up his citizenship to dodge military service. Son denied this on god's official website.
"As Korean-Americans, both my biological parents were U.S. citizens and I, too, am a U.S. citizen because I was born in 1980 in New Jersey," Son said. "I learned of my Korean nationality in middle school, and three months ago I discovered that I had been given Korean citizenship due to an administrative error, even though I was not legally entitled to it."
He said the Immigration Bureau told him to apply for a correction, "and three weeks ago, on May 4, I received confirmation." He said this was not to give up his Korean citizenship, but simply to correct a mistake since he had never been eligible for Korean citizenship in the first place.
The Chosun Ilbo was able to confirm at the Seoul Immigration Bureau that Son is telling the truth. "Because Son Ho-young was born after both his parents had acquired U.S. citizenship, he's an American, and he was entered into his Korean family registry by mistake, so the Seoul Administrative Court ruled on May 3 that his nationality be corrected," Immigration official Yang Jun-gil said. "To become a Korean citizen, he must be naturalized."
Korea's aggressive online community had been characteristically vocal in their criticism of Son, since his stepmother's allegation surfaced at a time when the Immigration Office is inundated with requests from young men giving up their Korean passports ahead of a new law that would stop them from doing so before they have completed their military service.
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