By Park Hye Ri and Yoon Sojung
Photos = Ministry of Justice
The descendant of an independence fighter now serving in the Korea Coast Guard. An entrepreneur who recorded USD 10 million in exports in 2016 and helps the needy in Incheon and vicinity. A volunteer worker caring for children from multicultural families after school.
These three are among the four naturalized Koreans honored by the Ministry of Justice on Dec. 19 as “exemplary citizens” in a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Nationality Act.
The ministry said the four contributed to raising national recognition of naturalized Koreans and enhancing social integration in the country through their efforts toward self-improvement, business management and social services.
Lee Dong-bin, a Korean-Chinese descendant of Korean independence fighter Lee G-il, gained Korean citizenship in 2009. He worked as a tour guide and a police officer on Jeju Island before joining the Korea Coast Guard in Busan in 2016.
“Naturalized Koreans should actively display their capabilities and play a role in protecting and helping further develop Korea,” he said at the ceremony.
Ali Mudassar, originally from Pakistan, is a trader of used heavy construction equipment who recorded USD 10 million in exports in 2016. Receiving his Korean passport last year, he has contributed to social welfare centers in the Incheon region for the underprivileged.
Song Ji-yun, a volunteer worker from the Philippines who became naturalized this year, is a teacher of afterschool classes as well as a volunteer at a support center for multicultural families in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province.
Kim Na-young, who was born in Vietnam, moved to Korea after marrying her Korean husband and became naturalized in 2009. She has supported her family while studying and working at the Korean National Open High School.
Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said at the ceremony, “We will strive to find exemplary citizens from among naturalized Koreans to offer them opportunities to contribute to the development of Korean society.”
He also asked the four awardees to do their best to make the country proud and prosperous for the next generation, while delivering words of encouragement.
A combined 189,193 people have become naturalized Koreans over the past 70 years since the enactment of the Nationality Act on Dec. 20, 1948, according to the ministry.