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[Q&A] Criminal Charge and Its Legal Implications in Exit Order, Entry Ban and Visa Refusal in Korea

Q) This past weekend I was involved in some altercation with a Korean guy at the local bar.  I pushed him slightly, but he fell down and broke his wrist.  He phoned a police officer and filed a criminal accusation against me.  I am an E-2 visa holder.  What can I do now to help myself?

A) If you are a first offender and had no other criminal record, I don’t think this case becomes a serious one.  However, as you are a foreigner, any conviction could lead to an exit order and an entry ban decision from the Korean immigration office.  Under the current rule, if a foreigner is fined more than 5,000,000KRW for any crime in Korea, the immigration office can issue an exit order and a future visa application and extension could be denied.  It can also result in an entry ban.  Under the rule, the duration of entry ban is as follows:

  • total amount of fine for the last 1 year exceeds 5,000,000KRW: 1 year
  • committed any crime more than 2 times for the last 1 year: 1 year
  • the amount of fine is between Continue reading


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[Q&A: Family Law] When Foreign Couples Divorce and Get Married in Korea

Q) I have some questions about marriage and divorce law in Korea regarding two non-Koreans living in Korea.  Can they divorce and re-marry in Korea?

A) The Korean court hears international divorce lawsuit basically if the defendant resides in Korea.  So long as the defendant resides in Korea, the duration of his residence does not matter. Even if the plaintiff does not reside in Korea, she can file a divorce lawsuit to a Korean court. If the defendant does not reside in Korea, the divorce lawsuit can be accepted only when the plaintiff fails to locate the defendant or the defendant answers the lawsuit filed under Korean court.

Regarding the governing law, the divorce case shall be governed in the following order:

  1. the same law of nationality of both spouses
  2. the same law of habitual residence of both spouses
  3. the law of the place where is most closely connected with both spouses.

If one party is a Korean national having a habitual residence in Korea, notwithstanding the foregoing, the law of South Korea will be the governing law.

The Korean court shall decide Continue reading


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[Q&A: Divorce Law] Does Being Separated for Many Years Itself Make It Easier to Get a Divorce Decree in Korea?

Q) Most of my friends say if you’ve got separated for many years, it is easy to apply for a divorce.  Is that true?

A) Basically being separated for many years is, by itself, not a justifiable cause for a judicial divorce under Korea divorce law.  The key issue will be why both of you have been separated.  If it is because of your husband’s violence and/or maltreatment, you’re surely entitled to a divorce decree from a Korean Family court, even if you’re separated for only 1 day.  To the contrary, if you’ve maliciously Continue reading


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[Q&A] My Spouse Won’t Sign the Divorce Agreement, How Can I Get the Divorce Finalized in Korea?

Q) I’m a U.S. citizen married to a Korean woman having one child.  Currently we live apart and our child’s living time is split between us. I wouldn’t mind this situation if I knew she could be trusted to care for him safely and properly. But she can’t do this. I’m incredibly worried about his present safety and his emotional development. We have the papers but she won’t sign them, she uses our marital situation to manipulate me. Is there any way I can file for divorce without her consent? If so, where can I do this? Also, what would I need to do to obtain sole parent authority after the divorce?

A) If she keeps refusing to sign the divorce agreement, you have no choice but to file a divorce lawsuit with a Korean court which has a jurisdiction over the residence where she resides in order for the divorce to be finalized in Korea. Of course, Continue reading


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Claim for Division of Property under Korean Divorce Law

Korean divorce law allows a claim for division of property to any party of divorcing couple.  It means even the spouse who is responsible for the marriage breakdown has the right, too.

Division of property shall be determined by the parties’ agreement first.  If no agreement is made or if it is impossible to reach an agreement, the Family court shall, upon request of the parties, determine the amount and method of division.

One thing which should be noted is that the object of the division is only  the marital assets which means the “property acquired by cooperation of both parties during the marriage”.  That mens, if the property in issue is acquired by only either party’s effort and funds, then it shall not be Continue reading


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Korean Divorce Law Requires a Just Cause for Divorce : Can a Husband Who Cheated On His Wife Get Divorced Under Korean Law?

Let’s assume a situation where a husband has an affair with someone and he wants to get divorced. Can it happen legally under Korea divorce law?

The answer is, it could not be easy for him to get divorced unless the wife agrees to it. Someone may argue that as long as the marriage cannot be sustained because of husband’s act of unchastity, it is meaningless and no good for anyone to force the continuance of the marriage.

Well, that allegation sounds plausible, but may be rejected by the Korean court.

Korean law(Civil Act) allows judicial divorce in the following cases(Article 840 of Civil Code):

1. If the other spouse has committed an act of unchastity.
2. If one spouse has been maliciously deserted by the other spouse
3. If one spouse has been extremely maltreated by the other spouse or his or her linear ascendants
4. If one spouse’s linear ascendants has been extremely maltreated by the other spouse Continue reading