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Is it hard to get Korean citizenship?


Getting citizenship in a foreign country is a dream for many people. It offers opportunities for better living, education, and employment. South Korea is a popular destination for expatriates, and many people are interested in obtaining Korean citizenship. However, the process of acquiring Korean citizenship is not an easy task. In this article, we will explore the requirements and procedures of obtaining Korean citizenship.

Legal Requirements

To get Korean citizenship, there are certain requirements that must be met. The first requirement is to have lived in South Korea for at least five years. You need to have a valid visa, and your stay must be legal. Additionally, you must be over 20 years old, have no criminal record, and be financially stable. You should also possess basic knowledge of the Korean language and culture.

Naturalization Process

The naturalization process in South Korea involves several steps. First, you need to submit an application form to the Immigration Office. After that, you will undergo an interview and take a test on Korean language proficiency and understanding of Korean culture. If you pass the tests and meet all the requirements, your application will be reviewed by the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry will then grant or deny your application based on its discretion.

Exceptions to the Five-Year Rule

There are some exceptions to the five-year residency requirement for obtaining Korean citizenship. For example, if you are married to a Korean citizen, you can apply for naturalization after only two years of living in South Korea. If you are of Korean descent or have special skills that are beneficial to the country, you may also be able to apply for naturalization before five years.

Dual Citizenship

South Korea does not generally allow dual citizenship. If you want to obtain Korean citizenship, you need to renounce your original citizenship. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you are married to a Korean citizen or have special skills that are beneficial to the country, you may be allowed to keep your original citizenship.

Benefits of Korean Citizenship

Korean citizenship offers many benefits, such as the right to vote and run for public office, access to better healthcare and education, and more job opportunities. Additionally, Korean citizens are eligible for social welfare benefits and can enjoy visa-free travel to many countries around the world.

Challenges of Obtaining Korean Citizenship

The process of obtaining Korean citizenship can be challenging and time-consuming. It requires a lot of paperwork, language proficiency, and understanding of Korean culture. Additionally, the waiting time for processing an application can be up to two years or more.

Costs Involved

There are several costs involved in applying for Korean citizenship. Some of these costs include application fees, document translation fees, and legal fees if you hire a lawyer to assist you with the process. The total cost can add up to several thousand dollars.


In conclusion, obtaining Korean citizenship is not an easy task. It requires meeting several legal requirements, passing tests on language proficiency and understanding of culture, and undergoing a review process by the Ministry of Justice. Despite the challenges involved, acquiring Korean citizenship offers many benefits such as access to better healthcare and education, more job opportunities, and visa-free travel to many countries around the world.


1) Can I keep my original citizenship if I obtain Korean citizenship?
Answer: Generally, no. South Korea does not allow dual citizenship.
2) How long does it take to process an application for Korean citizenship?
Answer: It can take up to two years or more.
3) Are there exceptions to the five-year residency requirement for obtaining Korean citizenship?
Answer: Yes, there are exceptions for certain groups such as those who are married to a Korean citizen or of Korean descent.
4) Can I apply for Korean citizenship if I have a criminal record?
Answer: No, you cannot apply if you have a criminal record.
5) Do I need to know how to speak Korean to obtain Korean citizenship?
Answer: Yes, you need to have basic knowledge of the language and culture.

How long does it take to get citizenship in Korea?

To become a naturalized citizen after residing in a country for five years, one must be able to support themselves or be a dependent of a family who can support them.

Does marrying a Korean give citizenship?

Marrying a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can provide a direct route to immigration to the United States for noncitizens. However, it is important to note that this does not guarantee immediate or automatic immigration rights or citizenship in the U.S., despite widespread rumors to the contrary.

How can an American get Korean citizenship?

If you are not related to a Korean national, you are required to live in Korea for a minimum of 5 years as a permanent resident before being eligible to apply for citizenship. This applies to those who intend to stay in the country for an extended period of time. The deadline for this requirement is on February 4, 2023.

How long does a US citizen stay in Korea?

For tourism or visitation purposes, American citizens with valid passports can travel to South Korea without a visa for up to 90 days.

Can I live in Korea permanently without citizenship?

To obtain a Permanent Resident Visa in South Korea, one must meet certain eligibility requirements which include investing at least 600 million KRW (equivalent to 500,000 USD) in a local business and hiring five or more locals, marrying a Korean citizen or an F-5 holder, or obtaining a degree from a South Korean institution.

Can an American marry a North Korean?

If a foreigner wishes to marry a citizen of North Korea, they must first obtain official permission from the North Korean government. This requirement was established on October 23, 2013.

Additional Requirements

Apart from the legal requirements, there are some additional requirements that you need to fulfill to obtain Korean citizenship. For instance, you need to provide proof of your financial stability, which includes your tax returns and bank statements. You also need to provide a certificate of good conduct from your home country or any other country where you have lived for more than six months.

Language Proficiency Test

The language proficiency test is an essential part of the naturalization process. The test assesses your ability to read, write, and speak in Korean. You will also be evaluated on your understanding of Korean culture and society. The results of this test will determine whether you meet the language proficiency requirement for obtaining Korean citizenship.

Preparing for the Interview

The interview is another crucial part of the naturalization process. During the interview, the immigration officer will ask you questions about your background, education, work experience, and reasons for wanting to become a Korean citizen. You should prepare for the interview by studying Korean history, culture, and societal norms. You should also practice answering common interview questions and be confident in your responses.


Obtaining Korean citizenship can be a challenging process, but it is worth it if you are looking for better opportunities and a higher quality of life. To succeed in this endeavor, you must meet all the legal requirements, pass the language proficiency test, and undergo a successful interview with the immigration officer. With perseverance and determination, you can achieve your goal of becoming a Korean citizen and enjoying all the benefits that come with it.

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