After the jump I’ve translated an old article from Money Today that I came across recently. It was written in 2009, right around the time that MC the Max bassist Yoon Jae-woong renounced his U.S. citizenship, and mentioned a number of other South Korean celebrities — comprising both native-born U.S. citizens as well as naturalised and unnaturalised immigrants — who decided to stop being U.S. Persons.
With the release of the latest Federal Register “published expatriates” list, the demagogues in the U.S. media are coming out in force to spread their typical lies about how we U.S. Persons abroad are all mink-swathed Benedict Arnolds skipping out on our tax bills after enjoying the benefits of U.S. citizenship. So once again I repeat the simple truth which is illustrated by every non-U.S. media story about renunciants: those of us who give up U.S. citizenship have been contributing members of society in other countries for years. We are not fugitives from the U.S. who snuck out on the night of 14 April. Even before the recent U.S. crackdown on non-U.S. bank accounts, celebrities and ordinary people living ordinary lives outside of the U.S. were happy to give up a U.S. passport from which they derived little or no concrete benefit, so that they could step forward to further success in the countries where they actually lived.
해외 시민권·영주권 포기, 입대 선택한 ★은?
Which stars chose to give up foreign citizenship or permanent residence and enlist in the military?
|머니투데이 김훈남 기자, 2009.09.19||Money Today reporter Kim Hoon-nam, 19 September 2009|
|해외 영주권 혹은 시민권을 획득해 국방의 의무가 없지만 성실히 군역을 이행한 스타들. 왼쪽부터 시계방향으로 제이윤, 이루마, 연정훈, 토니안 ⓒ사진=머니투데이 사진DB||If you obtain foreign permanent residence or citizenship, you no longer have any national defence obligation, but these celebrities are faithfully performing their military service. From the left in clockwise order: Jay Yoon, Yiruma, Yeon Jung-hoon, and Tony Ahn. Photograph ⓒ Money Today, photograph database|
|16일 신종병역기피 수법이 적발되면서 다시 병역비리가 수면 위로 떠오른 가운데, 엠씨더맥스의 제이윤(윤재웅·26)이 17일 논산훈련소로 입소했다. 제이윤이 미국 시민권을 포기하고 입대한 사실이 알려지면서 해외 시민권 혹은 영주권을 포기하고 성실히 군복무를 마친 연예인들에 대한 관심도 높아졌다.||On the 16th, there were disclosures of new methods of avoiding military service, and the topic of draft evasion has floated up again, but in the midst of all this, on the 17th MC the Max’s Jay Yoon (Yoon Jae-woong, 26) was admitted to the Nonsan Training Camp. It’s a well-known fact that Yoon gave up his U.S. citizenship so that he could enlist, heightening people’s interest in actors who gave up overseas citizenship or permanent residency and faithfully completed military service.|
You might ask why one country keeps producing all these reports of renunciants who don’t appear in the IRS list — but as far as I can tell that impression is merely due to selection bias. There’s confirmed cases of people from a wide variety of countries who gave up U.S. citizenship but whose names don’t show up either — too many to lend credence to the theory that they’re all lying about their renunciations or that the reports are all due to media misunderstandings. It’s just that because of the military service angle, Korean media tends to be the most vocal when a Korean American man renounces, whereas most Japanese or Jamaican celebrities and their PR agencies don’t make a big deal out of the same event and so we don’t read about it as often in the papers.
|꾸준한 선행으로도 유명한 차인표(41)는 국방의 의무를 다한 해외파 연예인의 원조 격이다. 차인표는 1995년 신애라(40)와 결혼 직후 미국 영주권을 포기, 육군에 입대했다. 또 국방홍보지원단에서의 성실한 모습이 방송에 공개돼 화제가 되기도 했다.||The famous & ever-more-popular Cha In-pyo (41) is the “godfather” of former-expat entertainers who fulfilled their national defence obligations. Right after marrying Shin Ae-ra (now 40) in 1995, Cha gave up U.S. permanent residence and enlisted in the army. He appeared in Defence Media Agency broadcasts looking very serious, turning him into a hot topic of discussion.|
|탤런트 연정훈(30) 역시 미국 영주권을 포기하고 입대한 대표적인 케이스다. 연정훈은 중학교 시절부터 미국으로 건너가 영주권을 취득했으나 2004년 이를 포기하고 이듬해 입대, 상근예비역으로 복무했다. 군복무를 마친 연정훈은 지난해 MBC 드라마 ‘에덴의 동쪽’으로 성공적으로 연예계에 복귀했다.||Actor Yeon Jung-hoon (30), who also gave up U.S. permanent residence and enlisted, is a representative case. Yeon went to the U.S. when he was in middle school and obtained permanent residence, but gave it up in 2004 and enlisted in the following year, and served as a reservist. After finishing his military service last year, Yeon successfully re-entered the acting world in the MBC drama “East of Eden”.|
I haven’t been able to find any clear reports on when Cha first obtained his green card, and anyway he had already given it up by the time Congress first decided to extend LBJ’s expatriation tax to green card holders. Yeon, however, appears to have been a “long-term permanent resident” for purposes of § 877(e): he was born in 1978, moved to the U.S. in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and then didn’t give up his green card until more than a decade later.
It’s also not quite clear when (or even whether) the Federal Register list began including green-card-holders: the law mandating publication (§ 6039G(d)) has always required USCIS to forward information about them to the IRS, and all we know is that a notice began appearing in the Q1 2012 “name-and-shame list” that “For 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”. The only other confirmed case I’ve heard of a long-term green-card-holder abandoning his status (Ok Taec-yeon, previously discussed here) is also from before 2012.
|피아니스트 이루마(31)는 군에 입대하기 위해 영국 시민권을 포기한 사실이 알려져 화제가 됐다. 이루마는 11세 때 영국 유학을 떠나 현지에서 시민권을 획득했으나 시민권을 포기하고 2006년 7월 해군에 입대, 성실하게 군복무를 마쳤다. 당시 이루마는 “한국에서 오랫동안 활동하고 싶다”며 자원입대 이유를 밝혔다.||It’s also a well-known fact that pianist Yiruma (31) gave up British citizenship to enlist. Yiruma went to study in the United Kingdom at age 11 and then obtained citizenship there, but gave up citizenship in July 2006 and enlisted in the Navy, and faithfully completed his military service. At the time, Yiruma revealed the reasons behind his voluntary enlistment, stating that “I’m hoping to further my career in Korea for a while”.|
Yiruma, the sole British citizen mentioned in this article, is entitled under the British Nationality Act 1981 to resume his U.K. citizenship at any time he wants. Many of us Americans abroad have held U.S. citizenship all these years either through negligence or ignorance, or at most as a token of our identity, a reminder of our childhoods and our connection to the people in a distant motherland with whom we foolishly imagined we shared some bond. Other countries are happy to facilitate the maintenance of this kind of connection with their diasporae, and even to let them restore the bond if they had earlier decided to break it. The U.S. is nowhere near this mature: in the imaginations of the folks back home, we emigrants are un-American freeloaders whose very presence abroad imposes costs on the Homeland.
The logical step is for us to end the relationship in which both parties feel abused. Sadly, like in any other kind of human relationship, this only leads to further recriminations.
|신화의 에릭(문정혁·30)과 ‘토사장’ 토니안(안승호·31) 역시 미국 영주권을 반납하고 지난해 8월과 11월 각각 입대했다. 에릭은 현재 서울메트로에서 공익근무요원으로, 토니는 부산 53사단을 거쳐 국방홍보지원반에서 근무 중이다.||Eric (Moon Chung-hyuk, 30) and Tony Ahn (Ahn Seung-ho, 31) of the band Shinhwa also handed back their U.S. green cards and enlisted in August and November last year, respectively. Eric is now performing supplementary public service with the Seoul Metropolitan Government, while Tony served with the 53rd Division in Busan and is now attached to the Defence Media Agency.|
|그 외에 이루(27)는 미국에서 태어나 시민권을 가지고 있었으나 이를 포기, 지난해 5월 입대해 현재 서울 종로구청에서 공익근무요원으로 근무 중이다. 가수 크라운제이 역시 영주권을 포기하고 2006년 현역으로 군복무를 마쳤다.||Aside from them, Eru (27) was born in the U.S. and had citizenship but gave it up. He enlisted in May last year, and is now performing supplementary public service at Jongno District Office. Singer Crown J also gave up his permanent residence and finished his military service in 2006.|
Crown J’s biography gives his real name as Kim Kei-Hoon, while Eru’s real name is reported to be Cho Sung-hyun. The latter name might also be spelled Jo Seong-hyeon or otherwise; South Korean media aren’t usually very careful about confirming what spelling a person prefers when they translate their articles into English. However, no person by any name similar to either of those has ever appeared in the Federal Register. I wasn’t seriously expecting that Crown J would, but Eru was a citizen, so his name certainly should have been published; I guess that just makes him one more example to add to the ever-growing list of people who failed to show up in the Federal Register after 2006.
On a slightly different topic: the Defence Media Agency was a special unit whose members were colloquially known as “entertainment soldiers”. After completing basic training, some actors & singers would be assigned to the unit to hold concerts for the troops to boost morale and appear on government propaganda programs. However, ordinary conscripts resented the special privileges enjoyed by “entertainment soldiers”, making the morale-boosting efforts counterproductive, and just a few weeks ago the government announced that it would eliminate the unit and reassign all the celebrities to ordinary duties.
Obviously, the pop stars & their managers won’t be too happy about this, but I highly doubt it’ll result in a decrease in the number of pop stars with U.S. citizenship or PR who choose to cancel it to serve in the army; they’re members of the society in which they actually live, and they’ll fulfill their duties in that society as the prerequisite to continuing acceptance.
|해외 시민권이나 영주권을 가진 사람이 이를 포기하지 않을 경우 주민등록이 말소돼 국방의 의무에서 벗어날 수 있다. 다만 국방부는 2001년 법 개정을 통해 “대한민국 국적을 가지고 있는 해외거주자가 1년에 60일 이상 국내에서 활동할 경우 영장을 청구하고 병역소집령을 내리도록” 했다.||People who have foreign citizenship or permanent residence and do not give it up will have to cancel their [South Korean] resident registration in order to get out of their national defence obligations. The Ministry of Defence stated after the 2001 amendments, “overseas residents holding the nationality of the Republic of Korea who spent more than 60 days per year in the country will receive a draft notice ordering them to report for military service”.|
|영주권은 외국인이 특정 국가에 살면서 그 나라의 법을 준수하는 이상 영구히 머물 수 있는 권리를 말한다. 영주권은 취득하더라도 주민등록만 말소될 뿐 대한민국 국적은 유지된다. 시민권은 이와 달리 해당 국가의 국적을 취득하는 것이다. 만약 해외 출생 등으로 외국 국적을 취득해 대한민국 국적과 동시에 가지고 있는 경우, 만 22세 이전에 둘 중 하나를 포기해야 한다.||Permanent residence is a status given to foreigners living in certain countries and obeying the law there, allowing them to settle permanently. If you obtain [foreign] permanent residence, your [South Korean] resident registration will be cancelled but you retain South Korean citizenship. Citizenship is different from that, since you obtain the nationality of the corresponding country. In the case of a person who holds Republic of Korea nationality and also foreign nationality by being born overseas, they must choose to give up one of [the nationalities] before turning 22 years old.|
All the recent jump in renunciations proves is that U.S. citizenship is not a status symbol or a mystic protective talisman, and when it becomes a barrier to their happiness in the places they call home, people will drop it like a stone. Even people in Seoul who live about two hour’s drive away from a thirty-year-old dictator with nuclear missiles and a starving populace.