August 22, 2023
SEOUL – The South Korean government is looking to remove potential disparities in the way personal information of foreigners, including overseas Koreans, is handled between different government entities here.
The approval of the revision of the Immigration Act at a Cabinet meeting on Monday will pave the way for entities in central and local governments to address administrative bottlenecks involving foreigners when it comes to crimes, taxation and disease control, as well as provision of welfare benefits.
According to the Ministry of Justice, such hiccups in administrative affairs involving foreigners stemmed from the lack of standardized guidelines or references in registering “personal information” including name, gender, date of birth, nationality and passport number.
For example, the disparities in a foreigner’s name format between different government entities — such as the order a surname and a given name is put, the language an entity chooses to register his or her name, or the use of spaces in a given name, among others — have led to confusions or errors in foreigners’ administrative affairs.
Errors also occurred when dealing with registering foreigners’ date of birth, because the sequence of year, month and day differed by the registrants’ countries of origin and by the government entities where the date was registered.
The Justice Ministry plans to seek uniformity in registering foreigners’ personal information under its own guidelines. It said its guidelines abide by the standard provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
As a result, the surname will come first and given names will come next in writing and managing foreigner names, with no spaces or hyphens within a single given name. As for the date of birth, the year of birth comes first, followed by the month and day. No Korean conversion in between will be made for official foreigner registrations.
The Justice Ministry added that the implementation of a standardized pangovernmental system to manage foreigners’ personal information has been underway since March, with the goal of completing the project by November.
Following Monday’s approval at the Cabinet, the revision bill will advance to the National Assembly in the near future, but the Justice Ministry did not elaborate on any specific date.