Controversy is arousing among human rights advocates in South Korea after the government recently turned down a proposed plan to grant child support and tuition for Korean nationals residing foreign countries.
In November of last year, South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission (NHR) has lodged an official request to the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Ministry of Education to provide welfare for Korean citizens who are residing outside of their country. The basis of the request was that South Korea’s welfare programs must apply equally to all of its citizens.
However, the two ministries revealed on Wednesday that the NHR’s request cannot be approved as such a proposal requires a more thorough reviewing process.
“To expand welfare to those living abroad is a process that requires a more thoughtful approach,” the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s statement read. “It is unclear whether those Korean nationals will return to their home country on a permanent basis.”
Also, the Ministry of Health and Welfare added that the Korean nationals who have been granted as permanent residents of another country are not eligible to receive welfare benefits for their children even if their families were to relocate to South Korea.
In response, the NHR argued that the South Korean government’s responsibility to protect and support its citizens should not be narrowed down to just those residing within the country.
“Providing welfare to young citizens is an investment for the future,” the NHR said in a statement. “The country’s government has the responsibility to provide resources for their citizens to gain access to education. For the children of South Korean nationals who’ve been granted permanent residency outside of their country to be excluded from welfare programs is a violation of the United Nations’ policies.”
This is not the first time the South Korean government reaffirmed its reluctance to provide benefits for South Korean nationals who are or in the past have lived outside of the country. Starting last year, South Korea also ruled that those who have lived outside of the country for a lengthy period will be excluded from receiving homecare allowances.
As of today, the South Korean government is providing homecare allowances to families with children at age 5 or younger. A family with a newborn receives $180 USD per month until the child’s first birthday.
For a family with a child from ages between 1 and 5, an allowance of up to $130 per month is provided. However, parents who have lived 90 days or longer outside of the country during this period is not eligible to receive such a funding.
By Hyoung jae Kim