As we’ve reported previously, since around 2006 or so there have been dozens of newspaper reports and many more internet comments about people who renounced U.S. citizenship but never showed up in the Federal Register. However, the Federal Register is not supposed to include just ex-citizens, but certain ex-permanent residents as well: those who held their green cards for eight out of the past fifteen years.
Up until now, the only ex-green card holders I’d heard of weren’t within the scope of the “name-and-shame list”, either because they’d given up their green cards before the list existed (like Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou) or didn’t hold them for long enough (e.g. Constitutional Court judge Chen Be-yue). However, in early 2010, Korea.com reported that 2PM member Ok Taec-yeon had given up a long-held U.S. green card so that he could serve in the South Korean army.
Another Korean-language report states that Ok, who was born in Busan, immigrated to Massachusetts with his family at age 12, which would be some time around 2000; it also has a picture of an old yearbook confirming that “Ok Taec-yeon” is his real name and the same spelling he’s been using all his life, so there’s not much possibility he slipped through in the Federal Register list under a different name — no one surnamed “Ok” has ever appeared in the “name-and-shame list”.
2PM member Ok Taec-Yeon has made public his firm intention to join the army.
At a KBS2 2TV production meeting for the new Monday-Tuesday drama series Dream High, held on the afternoon of the 27th, Ok explained that there was no special reason that he was joining the army and that he had thought a lot about it since the incident on Yeonpyeongdo.
Through his agency, Ok submitted to the American Embassy on the first of this month documents required for giving up his permanent residency in the United States. Even though he was given a 4F after taking the military’s medical examination for his poor vision and the dislocation of his shoulder, he has disclosed that he will still join the army.
Ok also stated, “Because many people around me have tried to dissuade me by saying that the army dilemma is a big problem for male celebrities, I have given much thought to this dilemma. I will try all I can to join the army after receiving surgery to correct my vision and treatment for my shoulder.”
From the Korea.com article, it’s clear that Ok didn’t just let his green card expire, but explicitly filled out an I-407. That should have resulted in a notification to the IRS about him; under 26 USC § 6039G(d)(3), “the Federal agency primarily responsible for administering the immigration laws shall provide to the Secretary the name of each lawful permanent resident of the United States (within the meaning of section 7701 (b)(6)) whose status as such has been revoked or has been administratively or judicially determined to have been abandoned.” Back in 2000, the IRS complained that the INS wasn’t giving them enough information to distinguish “long-term permanent residents”, but it’s not clear when that inter-agency snafu finally got fixed.
The Federal Register list only began including the note that “[f]or purposes of this listing, long-term residents, as defined in section 877(e)(2), are treated as if they were citizens of the United States who lost citizenship” in the Q1 2012 list. The law requiring publication, of course, has been the same all along.