02 May 2007

repaired hojok = "foreign national korean"

believe it or not, after jumping through a few bureaucratic hoops, my half-breed self should be able to claim "foreign national korean" status. who knew these people of the han would ever claim me? the F4 visa is specific to korean nationals living abroad, former citizens, or people (like me) where "one side of the parents or grandparents... once possessed korean nationality". under this criteria, my 1/4-korean niece could apply. it's nice because it means that i can be in korea for renewable 2-year terms without an excuse... no need for a formal employer or school-sponsored visa. i think that's pretty cool. thanks, mom!

after a long drive to the seoul immigration office in mokdong, an official explained to jayne and hyong what i needed to process my F4:

- a copy of my birth certificate
- 2 mug shots
- 60,000 won ($65)
- mommy's usa naturalization certificate
- her hojok (family registry) with a status change request via the korean consulate in seattle

the last one is the tricky part. the hojuje (family registry system) is korea's patriarchal setup that makes women legally subject to their father, husband or eldest son. each household is headed by a man. his wife and unmarried children are included in his hojok. sons create their own upon marriage whereas daughters join their husband's.

in 2003, the national human rights commission of korea called the hojuje unconstitutional and a human rights violation because it "...forces hierarchical family relationships and prioritization of paternal lineage without logical reason..." in 2005, the korean national assembly officially scrapped the system. in 2008 the country plans to usher in a gender-equal individual identification system.

but until that happens my family's hojok is my path to an F4. unfortunately, ma's marriage to pa was never recorded here. she is currently listed as a single woman (much less married with 2 kids, divorced and re-married) under my uncle's household (her father being dead). i doubt it's due to clerical error. my mother's personality makes me pretty sure that she wasn't enthusiastic about participating in her legal transfer from one man's family (her brother's) to another (her husband's).

but until this error is rectified i can't prove that i am the legitimate son [via my birth certificate] of my (once upon a time) married parents [via marriage license], who are both americans [via u.s. naturalization certificate], but whose mother was (once upon a time) a korean citizen [via hojok]. once i can do these things, i'll get my F4. yowsa.

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