Many North Korean residents in China are reportedly seeking to get a Chinese passport. A diplomatic source in Beijing on Tuesday said over the last month or two an increasing number of North Koreans who have lived in China for a long time have applied for Chinese citizenship. The main reason is convenience.
Some 4,000 to 5,000 North Koreans live in China with "resident alien" cards, which they have to renew regularly, and they suffer from various disadvantages, including lack of social insurance benefits.
Applications for Chinese citizenship surged since the media reported last November that Kim Jong-ja (61), a former North Korean resident, had obtained Chinese citizenship after living in the country for 52 years.
Born in Harbin in 1950, Kim became a North Korean national in 1958 when she and her family went to the North. She came back to China in 1965 and married a Chinese man, living in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province since.
But the North Korean authorities are reluctant to give out certificates permitting them to give up their nationality and obtain Chinese citizenship.
"It seems the Chinese government has granted citizenship to some North Koreans without demanding such a certificate issued by the North," a North Korea expert said. "But China is now demanding the certificate again due to the recent increase in applications."