Nationality Law of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

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Nationality Law of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
조선민주주의인민공화국 국적법
朝鮮民主主義人民共和國 國籍法
Revised RomanizationJoseon Minjujueui Inmin Gonghwaguk Gukjeokbeop
McCune–ReischauerChosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk Kukjŏkbŏp

The Nationality Law of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, commonly known as North Korea) governs who is a citizen of the DPRK, and how one may gain or lose such citizenship.


Until 1963, the DPRK had no formal nationality law. This led to situations which were quite unusual from the perspective of international law, most notably the Soviet Union's unilateral declaration that the Sakhalin Koreans were DPRK citizens—in effect, one sovereign state granting its residents the citizenship of another sovereign state, presumably without any consultation.[1]

The DPRK's first nationality law, passed on 9 October 1963, provided quite a broad definition of DPRK citizenship.[1] Specifically, it stated that anyone who had citizenship of undivided Korea and had retained it up to the promulgation of the new citizenship law, as well as descendants of such persons, was thenceforth a citizen of the DPRK.[2] This raised the possibility that every member of the Korean diaspora would be considered a DPRK citizen, as there had previously been no clear procedure for renunciation of Korean citizenship, and few had taken such an official step. The new law also established that foreigners could gain DPRK nationality by naturalisation.[1] The law was amended on 23 March 1995.[3]

The law permits multiple citizenship, and specifies that nationality treaties with other countries take precedence over the text of the law.[4] Due to the lack of normal diplomatic relations between the DPRK and Japan, Koreans in Japan with dual citizenship of the DPRK and Japan have had their requests to renounce Japanese citizenship in favour of solely retaining DPRK citizenship refused by Japan's Justice Ministry.[5] It is also legally possible to renounce DPRK nationality; the DPRK issues certificates of loss of nationality in such cases, which may be required by other states in which a former DPRK national seeks to naturalise. However, such certificates have become more difficult to obtain as of 2011, according to South Korean media reports.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Ginsburgs 1983, p. 319
  2. ^ Kim 1972, p. 324
  3. ^ "조선민주주의인민공화국 국적법", JoongAng Ilbo, 2006-06-28, retrieved 2011-01-17
  4. ^ Kim 1972, pp. 325–326
  5. ^ "Korean-Japanese Here Seek Way to Make Tokyo Gov. Legally Recognize Their NK Citizenship", Choson Sinbo, 1999-03-25, archived from the original on 2012-04-07, retrieved 2011-01-17
  6. ^ "More N.Koreans Apply for Chinese Citizenship", Chosun Ilbo, 2011-01-07, retrieved 2011-01-17


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