The Fathers’ Bigamy Blocks Kopino Children from Living with Their Mothers in Korea

Lee Bo-ra 2023. 3. 16. 16:43
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Angela B. Adel (from left) and her Kopino daughter Mihanna Adel Kim, and Dhemin Hackiro Gozum Ahn, a Kopino, and his mother Dandhia Laine G. Gozum hold up a letter thanking Korean citizens for supporting them at the Philadelphia Baptist Church in Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do on March 6. Courtesy of Jung Jin-nam, head of the Dream Come True Foundation

Kopino (born between a South Korean father and a Filipino mother) children who obtained South Korean nationality with a Korean court ruling came to Korea to live with their mothers, Filipino nationals, but the Ministry of Justice refused to issue the mothers an F-6-2 (child-raising) visa. The ministry claims it could not issue the F-6-2 visa because the mother was an alien, and the father was already married to a South Korean woman. Thus, the Kopinos could not apply for resident registration or subscribe to health insurance. Some experts point out that this is contrary to the justice ministry’s policy direction, which emphasizes the importance of immigration and migration policies.

* “Came to Korea to Raise a Child with Autism.” Mother Lost Contact with Korean Father after He Left

Dandhia Laine G. Gozum and Ahn attend a party celebrating the birth of their Kopino son, Dhemin Hackiro Gozum Ahn, at the home of Dandhia’s parents in San Fernando, Philippines in 2012. Courtesy of Dandhia

A friend introduced a Korean man with the surname Ahn (49) to Dandhia Laine G. Gozum (35), a Filipino woman, in Manila, Philippines in March 2011. The two were attracted to each other and became lovers. Ahn and Dandhia lived together in her parents’ house in San Fernando, Philippines. Dandhia became pregnant with Ahn’s child. She found out that Ahn was married, but by then, she was already with child. Dandhia reported the birth of her child at City Hall along with Ahn, and the child was baptized in a church. Ahn, who had seemed like he would do everything together with Dandhia, disappeared one day after leaving behind the words, “I’ll return after a trip to Korea.”

Their son, Ahn Dhemin Hackiro Gozum (11), suffers from severe autism. A mother raising an autistic child alone is tough in any country. Ahn did not pay for child support, except for one time, let alone contact Dandhia. In the Philippines, it is difficult to receive special education or support for treatment. Ahn’s son received recognition from a South Korean court and obtained South Korean nationality last June. He obtained the surname Ahn, after his father. “I have to keep an eye on my son at all times because I never know when he will suddenly act out. Since my son is Korean, I want him to receive education and treatment in South Korea.” This was the reason Dandhia decided to come to South Korea.

Angela B. Adel (34), another Filipino woman, is in a similar situation. She met Kim (37), a Korean man, when she was invited to a party hosted by Korean men in Manila, Philippines in January 2013. They also became lovers and saw each other every day. Kim returned to South Korea two months after he met Angela. She lost touch with Kim as soon as she told him that she was pregnant. She later found out that Kim then married a South Korean woman in South Korea.

Angela and Kim’s daughter, Kim Mihanna Adel (10) also inherited the surname Kim last July after receiving recognition from a South Korean court. Angela wants her daughter to live as a Korean in South Korea. On March 15, she said, “Her father may not have wanted this, but my daughter is Korean,” and added, “I want my daughter to receive a South Korean education as soon as possible and live with a Korean identity.”

Pictures kept by Angela B. Adel, the mother of a Kopino girl, of her and Kim dating in places including Manila, Philippines in 2013. Courtesy of Angela

* Justice Ministry Denies Child-Rearing Visa Because the Father Committed Bigamy and the Child Is Illegitimate

It wasn’t smooth sailing for Dandhia and Angela to come to Korea with their children. The South Korean embassy in the Philippines demanded a letter of invitation since the two women were aliens. Ryu In-seon, a pastor at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do helped them by sending the letters. They finally arrived in Korea in January.

However, they came up against an obstacle when getting their visas. Dandhia and Angela applied for the F-6-2 child-raising visa at the Cheongju Immigration and Foreign Office as soon as they arrived. An F-6-2- visa would enable them to find employment in South Korea.

It has been two months, but to this day, the justice ministry has not issued them the visa. The ministry explained to the Kyunghyang Shinmun, “The child-raising visa (F-6-2) is issued to parents who raise their minor children, born from a marriage (including de facto marriage) with our citizen, in South Korea.” They continued and said, “In the case of a foreigner trying to raise a child from a bigamous marriage (illegitimate), she is not qualified for the marriage migrant visa (F-6), which requires a marital relationship as a precondition.” In other words, the ministry cannot issue the child-raising visa to Dandhia and Angela, because the fathers of their children, Kim and Ahn, were already married to Korean women.

The ministry further said, “We need to be careful when granting rights other than the visiting and joining family visa (F-1) to aliens raising minors with South Korean nationality outside of marriage. We need to consider and build social consensus.” Initially, the South Korean embassy in the Philippines informed Dandhia and Angela that it could issue the F-6-2 visa, but the embassy changed its position belatedly claiming it had simply given a “general answer.”

Dandhia and Angela said they could not live with their children in South Korea with an F-1 visa. They can’t support their children, since it is impossible for them to engage in economic activities. And when their children come of age, the mothers must leave Korea.

The case of Agnes P. Santalisis (47), another mother of a Kopino child, shows what could be their dark future. Agnes received an F-1 visa from the justice ministry last March. She is raising her son, Jon Justine Yuan Santalisis (9), who acquired South Korean nationality, in Korea, but since she cannot find employment with an F-1 visa, she is unable to formally find work and barely manages to get by.

Dandhia Laine G. Gozum and her Kopino son, Dhemin Hackiro Gozum Ahn, currently reside in the children’s room at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do. Dandhia is studying the Bible with Pastor Ryu In-seon on January 18. Courtesy of Jung Jin-nam, head of the Dream Come True Foundation

* Children Unable to Go to the Hospital When They Are Sick Due to Delays in the Mothers’ Visa Process

The families of Dandhia and Angela currently live in a house near the nursery of the Philadelphia Baptist Church in Cheongju, Chungcheongbuk-do. Since they cannot earn money due to their visa limitations, they receive financial support from the church and an NGO. They recently received goods for their children from citizens online.

Since their visas have yet to be issued, Dandhia and Angela do not have an alien registration card. They cannot initiate basic administrative processes for their children, such as resident registration and health insurance, without the alien registration card. A while ago, a rash broke out all over Dhemin’s body, but Dandhia could not take him to the hospital for fear of the medical bill.

Angela said, “It was the father, Kim, and not me, who committed bigamy. I don’t understand why my daughter and I have to suffer the disadvantages. What disadvantages do Kim’s children face?” Dandhia said, “I was not aware that Ahn was married at the time. If I get a visa that makes it impossible for me to engage in economic activities because of this, I don’t think I can raise my child without any money in South Korea. I am so sorry to the pastor for I have been indebted to him for several months.”

Jung Jin-nam, head of the Dream Come True Foundation, an organization that supports Kopinos, said, “The South Korean government is not issuing child-raising visas to the mothers of Kopinos because it sees them as an ordinary alien instead of guardians of their children, who are citizens of the Republic of Korea. They need to treat the mothers, who are the sole protectors of their children, on par with citizens of the Republic of Korea.”

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