Category Archives: Question of the Week

Answers to your questions!

Can I get married to a same-sex spouse in Korea?

The Republic of Korea (ROK) government does not recognize same-sex marriages, even if those marriages are legally-recognized and performed in other countries, such as the United States.

How or where do I report a missing payment check?

Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Seoul is not a Social Security claims-processing post. The Social Security Administration’s regional office is located in Manila, Philippines. If you have not received a check by the date on which it usually comes, please wait until the end of that month. If you have not received it by the end of the month, you should notify the Social Security Administration in Manila of the non-receipt of the check by email. Their email address is FBU.manila@ssa.gov. When sending an email, include the following information.

• Name of beneficiary and claim number or Social Security Number
• The month of benefit payment you did not receive
• Current address
• Contact information such as telephone number or email

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction entered into force between the United States and the Republic of Korea on November 1, 2013

HagueThe Convention is the primary civil law mechanism for parents seeking the return of children who have been abducted from or retained outside their country of habitual residence by another parent or family member.  Parents seeking access to children residing in treaty partner countries may also invoke the Convention.  The Convention is critically important because it establishes a formalized diplomatic channel through which partner countries can cooperate on international parental child abduction and establishes an internationally recognized framework to resolve parental abduction cases.  The Convention does not address who should have custody of the child; it addresses where the custody case should be heard.

For more information about international parental child abduction, please visit:  ChildrensIssues.state.gov

Helpful Legal Information

Here’s information you may find helpful if you are facing a legal situation in Korea.  If you have any other concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to reach us at 02-397-4114, American Citizens Services.

Legal System in Korea:  The U.S. Embassy does not have the authority to legally represent U. S. citizens or to get them out of their legal difficulties.  Consular officers cannot interfere in Korean judicial affairs, provide legal advice, seek preferential treatment, or assume any responsibility as guarantor, surety, or supervisor.  For legal matters, please consult with a lawyer.

We can, however, assist you by providing basic information about the local legal system.  In Korea, when police investigate a case, they do so under the supervision of the Prosecutor’s Office.  During an investigation, both the police and the Prosecutor’s Office may ask suspects and witnesses to come voluntarily to their offices for interrogation.  In Korea, there is no grand jury procedure, and there is no preliminary hearing by a judge. Only the Prosecutor’s Office can decide whether to prosecute a case.  The duration of the criminal proceedings will also depend on how the prosecutor resolves the case: non-prosecution, summary judgment, or full trial.

If you find that you are unable to communicate with Korean authorities, please request a translator.  Although they may not be able to provide you with one immediately, especially if the time of investigation is during the late hours of the night, they can delay the investigation until they can make arrangements.

Lawyer’s List: To assist U. S. citizens desiring to  retain Korean counsel, the Embassy has prepared a list of Korean lawyers, which can be found at  https://kr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorneys.  Please note that inclusion on the list does not constitute an endorsement by the Embassy.

Reporting to the Police for Investigation For incidents in Seoul, please contact Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA) Tel:  General Inquiries 02-700-2575   Foreign Affairs Division: 02-739-6848. For incidents outside Seoul to please contact Korea National Police Agency (KNPA) and the Police Call Center +182. Website: http://www.police.go.kr

Korean Immigration: The U.S. Embassy is not able to look into your immigration status in Korea, so you must go to Korean Immigration or call them yourself.  Please call the Korean Immigration Hotline at +1345 or visit the nearest Immigration Office in Seoul with a valid ID (alien registration card if applicable).   There are four offices located in Seoul.  Please go to http://www.immigration.go.kr/HP/IMM80/index.do  for directions.

a)     Gwanghwamun Branch at Seoul Global Center (Jongak Station)

b)     Jongro Sejongno Office (Anguk Station)

c)      Mokdong (Omokgyo Station)

d)     The City Air Terminal (Samsung Station)

Translation Service:  The Korea BBB Association offers free translation service.  Tel.: 1588-5644, press 1 for English.

Korean Law:  the Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea:  The Korean government has released an English translation of the Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea.  For the text, please see the Ministry of Government Legislation’s website at: http://www.moleg.go.kr/lawinfo/engLawInfo?pstSeq=47161&searchCondition=UsrDef2&searchKeyword=foreign.

Seoul Global Center for Foreigners (Help Center): Individuals can contact the Seoul Global Center for Foreigners which is operated by the City of Seoul. Information about this help center can be found at http://global.seoul.go.kr/ or www.hikorea.go.kr  Tel: 02-1688-0120.

Seoul Global Center – Comprehensive Support Center for Foreigners

global centerDid you know that the Seoul Metropolitan Government established a comprehensive support center for foreign residents of Seoul? This facility, Seoul Global Center, is a one stop shop that offers a variety of services to foreigners with information on living and visiting Korea.

global center booklet “Living in Seoul,” an English language booklet produced by the Seoul Global Center, contains useful information.  You can obtain a copy for free at the Seoul Global Center!  There’s also a DVD and/or e-book version which you can find online at http://global.seoul.go.kr.

Below is the list of services offered at the Seoul Global Center:

Comprehensive Multilingual Counseling Service:

  • Counseling on matters related to daily issues such as education, housing, medical services, transportation, consumer services, and banking
  • Consulting services in areas such as labor, legal issues, taxes, real estate, etc.

Comprehensive Administrative Service:

  • Banking: Opening a bank account, obtaining a credit card, and registering as a foreign-invested company (Woori Bank)
  • Mobile: Signing up for a mobile phone (KT)
  • Travel Information: Information on tours in Seoul
  • Other services: Consulting services on taxation and national pension

Education and Exchange Program:

  • Korean Language Classes (free)
  • Life Orientation – Life information seminars for newly-arrived residents

Business Support:

  • Business Consulting Services:
    General consultation on establishing a company
    In-depth consultation provided by professional consultants in areas such as taxation, accounting, and business law
  • Business Start-up School: A program that provides essential information for starting up a new business
  • Networking with Experts: Meeting foreign business people – mentoring program

Change Your Name in Your U.S. Passport

name_change1Keeping with the theme of earlier blog entry, it’s important to have your U.S. passport reflect the actual name you use legally.  There are many reasons why a U.S. citizen may need to change his or her name on their U.S. passport.  They may get married, they may have legally changed their name for some reason, or, as in case of many U.S. citizens in Korea, they may want to reconcile their “American” name on their U.S. birth certificate and their “Korean” name that is on Korean legal and school documents.  The good news is that you can apply for a new passport with proper documentation!  Please refer to our website: https://kr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/name-changespassport-cards/for more information.

Notarials – What the Embassy Can and Can Not Notarize

The American Citizens Services performs notarials for documents to be used in the U.S., but we often get questions on what documents we can and cannot notarize.  While more information is available on our website at  https://kr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/notaries-public, this is a concise list of the types of notarial services the Embassy can offer:

What we can notarize:

  1. Affidavit, or sworn statements, such as an affidavit of eligibility of marriage;
  2. Power of Attorney allowing you to designate someone to take legal action on your behalf, such as sell your home or other property while you are overseas;
  3. Acknowledgement of Signature, which verifies that a particular person (who has to appear in front of a Consular officer) signed a given document.

What we cannot notarize:

  1. U.S. Apostille which verifies and confirms the seal and signature of the person who authenticated the document.
  2. Certification of foreign passport for use with individual tax number
  3. Authentication, notarization or legalization of public documents issued in the U.S. such as birth, marriage, death, academic, or commercial records, driver’s license and other credentials.
  4. Certified true copies of U.S. documents such as diplomas, bank statements, etc.
  5. Certified true copies of Non-U.S. documents such as Korean family register, etc.
  6. Signature or Medallion guarantees

In some cases, the Embassy may also refuse notarial services when the host country does not authorize the performance of the service, the document is going to be used in transactions prohibited by U.S. law, the officer or the client does not understand the document, or when the document is believed to be used for a purpose that is unlawful, improper, or inimical to the best interest of the United States.  

For more information on notarial services, preparing for your notarial appointment, making an appointment, and fees for this service, please visit our website at https://kr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/notaries-public/.