DPRK's Nationality Act

First East Asian law to degenderize nationality

By William Wetherall

First posted 18 June 2007
Last updated 1 September 2008


DPRK nationality    nationality  |  citizen  |  Initial determination  |  Korea  |  Korean  |  nationality of Korea
1963 DPRK Nationality Act amended through 1999

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DPRK nationality

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, founded on 9 September 1948, was the first East Asian state to formally adopt a principle of ambilineality in its nationality law of 1963 -- seventeen years ahead of the People's Republic of China in 1980. The law was somewhat revised in 1995 and 1999.

DPRK's Nationality Law stipulates only the overarching principles and leaves the details to other laws and regulations. On the surface, however, the law provides for the acquisition of DPRK nationality at birth and later, and for the loss and recovery of DPRK nationality, much like the laws of other states.

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"nationality" as used in ROC, PRC, ROK, and Japan

The Sino-Korean term for "nationality" is (국적 kukchŏk 國籍). It is clear from how this word is used in DPRK's Nationality Law that -- as in the Republic of Korea, as in the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China, and as in Japan -- "nationality" means "national register". Moreover, it designates a civil -- not racioethnic -- status.

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"citizen" as used in PRC and DPRK

DPRK, following the practice of the People's Republic of China, refers to those who possess its nationality as "citizens" (공민 kongmin 公民) -- rather than "nationals" (국민 kukmin 國民), the term used in the Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, and Japan.

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Initial determination embraces "Korea"

How did the Democratic Republic of Korea initially determine its nation -- i.e., the population of people it assumed possessed its nationality? DPRK took as its starting point everyone who had been affiliated with "Korea" up to the day DPRK was founded -- meaning "Korea" before annexation by Japan, "Korea" when part of Japan, and "Korea" after abandoned by Japan to the United States and the Soviet Union following its surrender to the Allies on 15 August 1945.

The DPRK nationality law embraces every person who was a "Korean" (조선사람 Chosŏn saram 朝鮮人) by virtue of possessing the "nationality" (국적 kukchŏk 国籍) of "Korea" (조선 chosŏn 朝鮮) -- and their children -- before the founding of the Republic -- who had not "abandoned" their nationality.

From the point of view of international law, all nationals of the Republic of Korea abandoned this nationality when they acknowledged their affiliation with ROK. Also, "Koreans" (朝鮮人 Chōsenjin) who remained in the prefectures of Japan after the war -- meaning people with family registers in "Korea" (朝鮮 Chōsen) -- who opted to register as nationals of ROK -- also abandoned their "Korean" status.

However, for many years ROK and DPRK did not recognized each other as states. In fact, each took the view that it was the true successor of the "Korea" of history -- much like ROC and PRC both claimed to be the only legitimate government of "China". In other words, both ROK and DPRK saw the other's nationals as part of its own nationality. Since their admission to the United Nations on 17 September 1991, the two states have had to formally recognize each other.

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Meaning of "Korea" (조선 Chosŏn)

Though 朝鮮 is part of its name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea formally refers to itself -- at least in this law -- either by its full name or as just "the Republic". The law also uses the softer Korean "other countries" (다른 나라 tarŭn nara) where the Japanese translation has the harder Sino-Japanese term "foreign states" (外国 gaikoku).

Significantly, 朝鮮 is reserved for the name of "Korea" as it existed before DPRK was founded -- the entire Korean peninsula, ignoring the Republic of Korea which, founded a few weeks earlier, also claimed the entire country. In other words, 朝鮮 is reserved for "Korea" both before, and during, the period of Japanese rule.

As a subnation of Japan between 1910 and 1945, Korea was known in Japanese as 朝鮮 (Chōsen). Japanese documents and publications in English referred to the territory as either Chosen or Korea.

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Meaning of "Korean" (조선사람 Chosŏn saram)

While 朝鮮人 is valid as both a Sino-Korean (조선인 Chosŏn'in) and Sino-Japanese (Chōsenjin) term for "Korean", DPRK's Nationality Law refers to someone who possessed the nationality of 朝鮮 as 조선사람 (Chosŏn saram) -- using the softer and more affectionate Korean word for "person". This would be rendered in Japanese as 人 (hito) or 人々 (hitobito).

In any event, the Sino-Japanese rendering is the usual historical reference to a person or persons affiliated with Korea before and under Japanese rule -- and after Japanese rule until at least the foundings of ROK and DPRK in 1948. The empires of Korea and Japan are defuct, but 朝鮮人 -- in legal parlance -- continues to describe the legacy status of former Japanese of Korean subnationality and their descendants in Japan, who have not formally registered as a national of the Republic of Korea, or naturalized in Japan or another state.

DPRK's Nationality Law obviously embraces legacy 朝鮮人 in Japan. However, 朝鮮人 are not, in Japan's eyes, DPRK nationals. Moreover, Japan and DPRK normalize their relationship and exchange diplomatic missions, there will be provisions for 朝鮮人 to decide what, if any, nationality they wish to acquire. And those who opt to be DRPK nationals will have to formalize their status with DPRK.

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Meaning of "nationality of Korea" (조선의 국적 국적 Chosŏn ui kukchŏk)

In writing its law as it has, DPRK has assumed that people with registers in Korea, who had possessed Japanese until 15 August 1945, effectively became nationals of Korea again when Japan surrendered. DPRK, like ROK, dates the historical origin of its legitimacy to 1 March 1919, which marked the start of a failed attempt independence movement. Both Koreas celebrate their independence on 15 August 1945.

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1963 DPRK Nationality Act amended through 1999
With commentary on terminology

Korean text

The Korean text was taken from from the Naenara (내나라) or "My Country" website of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (June 2007). The entirely hangul text was copied into an MS Word file and converted to an html file. The Microsoft Word and html tags were stripped, leaving only the unicode, which was then imported into this page. Some missing periods were added and the layout somewhat changed to facilitate the presentation on this page.

Japanese translation

The Japanese translation is one of several practically identical versions published in various books and posted on various websites. Japanese translations of Korean texts are usually highly structural in that they closely reflect the phrasing of the Korean and render Sino-Korean terms in Sino-Japanese equivalents.

The text has been compared with, and is very similar to, the translation by Oouchi Noriaki (大内憲昭) appended to the following publication (pages 395-396).

木棚照一 (監修)
Kidana Shoichi (compiler)
「在日」の家族法Q&A (第2判)
"Zainichi" no kazoku ho Q & A (Dai 2 han)
["Zainichi" family law Q & A (Second edition)]
東京:日本評論社, 2006
Tokyo: Nihon Hyoron Sha, 2006
424 pages, paper cover
1st edition 2001

English translations

The structural English translation is mine.

Commentary

Some terms have been highlighted in color to facilitate glosses or commentary.

조선민주주의인민공화국   국적법 朝鮮民主主義人民共和国   国籍法
Nationality Law of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

1963년 10월 9일
최고인민회의상임위
정령제 242 호로 채택

1995년 3월 23일 1차개정

1999년 2월 26일 재개정

1963年10月9日
最高人民会議常任委
政令第242号で採択

1995年3月23日 1次改正

1999年2月26日 再改正
9 October 1963 adopted by
Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly
Government Decree No. 242

23 March 1995 1st revision

26 February 1999 2nd revision
제1조

조선민주주의인민공화국국적법은공화국공민으로되는조건을정하고그들의자주적권리를옹호보장하는데이바지한다.
第1条

朝鮮民主主義人民共和国国籍法は、共和国公民となる条件を定め、その自主的権利の擁護保障に寄与する。
Article 1

The Nationality Law of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, shall determine the conditions to be a citizen of the republic, and shall contibute to the protection and guarantee of their autonomous rights.
제2조

조선민주주의인민공화국 공민은 다음과 같다.

1. 공화국창건 이전에 조선의 국적을 소유하였던 조선사람과 그의 자녀로서 그국적포기하지않은자

2. 다른 나라 공민 또는 무국적자로 있다가 합법적 절차로 공화국 국적을 취득한 자
第2条

朝鮮民主主義人民共和国公民は、次のとおりとする。

1. 共和国創建以前に朝鮮の国籍を所有した朝鮮人 (朝鮮の人) 及びその子供であってその国籍放棄しない者

2. 外国公民又は無国籍者であって合法的手続きにより共和国国籍を取得した者
Article 2

Citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, shall be as follows.

1. Those who are Koreans, who possessed the nationality of Korea before the founding of the Republic, and their children, and who do not abandon that nationality

2. Those who are citizens of another country or are stateless and who have acquried the nationality of the Republic in accordance with legal procedures.
제3조

조선민주주의인민공화국 공민은 거주지나 체류지에 관계없이 공화국의 법적 보호를 받는다.
第3条

朝鮮民主主義人民共和国公民は、居住地又は滞在地に関係なく共和国の法的保護を受ける。
Article 3

Citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, shall receive the legal protection of the Republic without relationship to their place of residence or place of stay.
제4조

다른나라에거주하는조선민주주의인민공화국 공민은 공화국으로 귀국하거나 자유로이 오갈 수있다.
第4条

外国に居住する朝鮮民主主義人民共和国公民は、共和国から帰国し、又は自由に往来することができる。
Article 4

Citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea who reside in another country, shall be able to return to the Republic, and freely come and go.
제5조

다음에해당하는자는출생에의하여조선민주주의인민공화국 국적을 취득한다.

1. 공화국 공민사이에 출생한 자

2. 공화국 령역에 거주하는 공화국 공민다른 나라 공민 또는 무국적자 사이에 출생한 자

3. 공화국영역에 거주하는 무국적자사이에 출생한 자

4. 공화국영역에서 출생하였으나 부모가 확인되지 않는 자
第5条

次に該当する者は、出生により朝鮮民主主義人民共和国国籍を取得する。

1. 共和国公民間に出生した者

2 .共和国領域に居住する共和国公民外国公民又は無国籍者間に出生した者

3. 共和国領域に居住する無国籍者間に出生した者

4. 共和国領域で出生したが両親が確認されない者
Article 5

Those to whom the following apply shall acquire the nationality of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on account of birth.

1. Those who were born between citizens of the Republic

2. Those who were born between a citizen of the Reublic and a citizen of another country or a stateless person, who reside in the territory of the Republic

3. Those who were born between stateless persons who reside in the territory of the Republic

4. Those who were born in the territory of the Republic but whose parents cannot be confirmed
제6조

무국적자또는다른 나라 공민은청원에의하여조선민주주의인민공화국 국적을 취득할 수있다.
第6条

無国籍者又は外国公民 (他の国の公民)は請願により、朝鮮民主主義人民共和国国籍を取得することができる。
Article 6

A stateless person or a citizen of another country, by petition, shall be able to acquire the nationality of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
제7조

다른나라에거주하는조선민주주의인민공화국 공민다른 나라 공민사이에 출생한 자의 국적은 다음과 같이 정한다.

1. 14살에 이르지 못한자의 국적은 부모의 의사를 따라 정하여 부모가 없을 경우에는 후견인의 의사에 따라 정한다. 이 경우 출생후개월이 되도록 부모나 후견인의 의사표시가 없으면 공화국 국적을 가진다.

2. 14살이상 미성인의 국적은 부모의 의사와 본인의 동의에 의하여 정하며 부모가 없을 경우에는 후견인의 의사와 본인의 동의에 의하여 정한다. 이 경우 본인의 의사가 부모의 의사 또는 후견인의 의사와 다르면 본인의 의사에 따라 정한다.

3. 성인으로 되는 자의 국적은 본인의 의사에 따라 정한다.
第7条

外国に居住する朝鮮民主主義人民共和国公民外国公民間に出生した者の国籍は、次のように定める。

1. 14才に至らない者の国籍は、両親の意思により定め、両親がない場合には後見人の意思により定める。この場合、出生後3ケ月になるまでに両親又は後見人の意思表示がなければ共和国国籍を有する。

2. 14才以上の未成年者の国籍は、両親の意思及び本人の同意により定め、両親がない場合には、後見人の意思及び本人の同意により定める。この場合、本人の意思が両親の意思又は後見人の意思と異なる場合、本人の意思により定める。

3. 成人になる者の国籍は、本人の意思により定める。
Article 7

The nationality of someone who was born between a citizen of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea who resides in a foreign country and a citizen of a foreign country, shall be determined as follows.

1. The nationality of those who have not reached the age of 14, shall be determined according to the wish of the parents, and in the event there are no parents shall be determined by the wish of a guardian. In this event, if there is no expression of the wish of the parents or the guardian by three months after birth, the child will possess the nationality of the Republic.

2. The nationality of a minor of age 14 or above, shall be determined according to the wish of the parents and the consent of the person, and in the event there are no parents, shall be determined according to the wish of a guardian and the consent of the person. In this event, in the event the wish of the person is different from the wish of the parents or the wish of the guardian, it shall be determined according to the wish of the person.

3. The nationality of those who are adults, shall be determined according to the wish of the person.
제8조

다른나라에거주하는조선민주주의인민공화국 공민다른 나라 공민사이에 출생한 자녀의 국적을 공화국 국적으로 정하려 할경우에는부모또는자녀가거주하는나라에주재하는공화국외교또는령사대표기관에해당한문건을내야한다.

공화국 외교 또는 령사대표기관이 없을 경우에는 가까운 나라에 주재하는 공화국외교 또는 령사대표기관이나 거주하는 나라의 해당 기관에 문건을 내야 한다.
第8条

外国に居住する朝鮮民主主義人民共和国公民外国公民間に出生した子供の国籍を共和国国籍に定めようとする場合には、両親又は子供が居住する国に駐在する共和国外交又は領事代表機関に該当する文書を提出しなければならない。

共和国外交又は領事代表機関がない場合には、近い国に駐在する共和国外交又は領事代表機関又は居住する国の該当機関に文書を提出しなければならない。
Article 8

In the event [one] would determine that the nationality of a child who was born between a citizen of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and a citizen of another country, residing in another country, is in the nationality [national register] of the Republic, [one] must submit applicable documents to an organ representing the diplomatic or consular affairs of the Republic in the state in which the parents or the child reside.

In the event there is no organ representing the diplomatic or consular affairs of the Republic [in that state], [one] must submit the documents to an organ representing the diplomatic or consular affairs of the Republic in a nearby state or to an applicable organ in the state in which [the parents or child] reside.
제9조

부모가조선민주주의인민공화국 국적에로 입적하거나 또는 그로부터 제적되는 경우 자녀의 국적은 다음과 같이 변경된다.

1. 14살에 이르지 못한 자녀의 국적은 부모의 국적을 따라 변경된다.

2. 14살이상- 16살에이른자녀의국적은부모의의사와본인의동의가있어야변경된다. 이경우부모의의사가없거나본인의의사와다르면본인의의사에따른다.
第9条

両親が朝鮮民主主義人民共和国国籍に入籍し、又はそれから除籍される場合、子供の国籍は、次のように変更される。

1. 14才に至らない子供の国籍は、両親の国籍に従い変更される。

2. 14才以上16才に達した子供の国籍は、両親の意思及び本人の同意がなければ変更されない。この場合、両親の意思がなく、又は本人の意思と異なる場合、本人の意思に従う。
Article 9

Parents shall enter [their children] in the nationality [i.e., national register] of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and in the event [they] are removed from that [i.e., the national register of the Republic], the nationality of their children, shall change as follows.

1. The nationality of a child who has not reached age 14, shall change in accordance with the parents' nationality.

2. The nationality of a child who has achieved the age of 14 to 16, shall not change without the wishe of the parents and the consent of the person. In this event, in the event there is no wish of the parents, or [the wish of the parents] is different from the wish of the person, it shall be according to the wish of the person.
제10조

조선민주주의인민공화국 국적을 가진 부모중 어느 일방의 국적이 변경되여도 그자녀의국적은변경되지않는다.
第10条

朝鮮民主主義人民共和国国籍を有する両親のうち一方の国籍が変更されても、その子供の国籍は、変更されない。
Article 10

Even should the nationality of one of the parents who possess the nationality of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea change, the nationality of their childen will not change.
제11조

조선민주주의인민공화국 국적은 결혼이나 리혼 또는 립양이나 파양에 의하여 변경되지 않는다.
第11条

朝鮮民主主義人民共和国国籍は、結婚若しくは離婚又は養子縁組若しくは縁組解消により、変更されない。
Article 11

The nationality of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, on account of a marriage or a divorce or of an alliance of adoption or a dissolution of an alliance, shall not change.
제12조

조선민주주의인민공화국 국적을 상실하였던 자는 청원에 의하여 공화국 국적을 회복할 수있다.
第12条

朝鮮民主主義人民共和国国籍を喪失した者は、請願により、共和国国籍を回復することができる。
Article 12

Those who have lost the nationality of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, by petition, shall be able to restore [recover] the nationality of the Republic.
제13조

조선민주주의인민공화국 국적에서 제적된 자는 그결정이있는날부터공화국공민으로서의법적지위와권리를상실한다.
第13条

朝鮮民主主義人民共和国国籍から除籍された者は、その決定がある日から共和国公民としての法的地位及び権利を喪失する。
Article 13

Those who have been removed from the nationality [i.e., national register] of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, from the day there is this determination shall lose the legal status and rights as a citizen of the Republic.
제14조

조선민주주의인민공화국에서 국적과 관련한 실무적인 사업은 공민등록기관이 한다.

공화국 령역밖에서는 해당 나라에 주재하는 공화국외교 또는 령사대표기관이 한다.
第14条

朝鮮民主主義人民共和国において、国籍と関連する実務的な事業は、公民登録機関がする。

共和国領域外においては、該当国に駐在する共和国外交又は領事代表機関がする。
Article 14

In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as for the actual tasks related to nationality, a citizen registration organ will do [them].

Outside the territory of the Republic, an organ representing the diplomatic or consular affairs of the Republic in the applicable state shall do [these tasks].
제15조

공화국국적에로의입적청원또는공화국국적에로의제적청원에대한결정은최고인민회의상임위원회가한다.
第15条

共和国国籍への入籍請願又は共和国国籍への除籍請願に対する決定は、最高人民会議常任委員会がする。
Article 15

As for determinations regarding a petition for entry into the nationality [i.e., national register] of the Republic or a petition for removal from the nationality [i.e., national register] of the Republic, the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly shall make [them].
제16조

조선민주주의인민공화국이 국적과 관련하여 다른 나라와 맺은 조약에서 이법의내용과다르게정할경우에는그조약에따른다.
第16条

朝鮮民主主義人民共和国が国籍と関連して、外国と締結した条約においてこの法律の内容と異なって定めた場合には、その条約に従う。
Article 16

In the event, in a treaty the Democratic People's Republic has concluded with a foreign state concerning nationality, [something was determined differently from the content of this law, [the determination of nationality] shall be in accordance with that treaty.

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