The Overseas Koreans Agency, which officially opens on June 5, operates under the Foreign Ministry.
Lim Soo-suk, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said Monday that the sites were decided on the basis of convenience and accessibility for overseas Koreans, as well as efficiency, balanced regional development, administrative consistency and the symbolism of the locations.
Specific sites will be determined at a later date following discussions with relevant agencies, including Incheon’s city government.
The administrative support office will handle a wide range of administrative matters, including nationality, certification, tax and pension services.
The new Overseas Koreans Agency will be headed by a vice minister-level official.
The Foreign Ministry had been handling everything related to Koreans living abroad through the Overseas Korean Foundation since 1997.
However, the foundation played only a limited role as important matters, such as immigration, were handled by other government departments like the Justice Ministry.
Some overseas Koreans complained of confusion as to which government offices they should contact because each administrative service was handled by a different agency.
President Yoon Suk Yeol pledged to elevate the Overseas Korean Foundation into a vice-minister level government agency when he was running for office during the 2022 presidential election.
Yoon said the newly established Overseas Koreans Agency will solve numerous problems faced by overseas Koreans by funneling issues through a single channel, while also solving inefficiencies such as overlapping agencies or the lack of needed support.
He said the most fervent wish of overseas Koreans was to have a one-stop agency dedicated to serving their needs.
According to the Foreign Ministry, there are over 7.3 million Koreans living in 190 countries as of 2021.
These figures not only include Korean nationals working or studying abroad or those with permanent residency overseas, but also people of Korean heritage with foreign nationalities.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]