City Research Online

North Korean Asylum Seekers in the West: Is Dual Nationality Dispositive?

Wolman, A. ORCID: 0000-0003-2820-3566 (2022). North Korean Asylum Seekers in the West: Is Dual Nationality Dispositive?. Indiana international & comparative law review, 32(2), pp. 403-424.


Since at least 2013, Western courts judging refugee cases have accepted that North Koreans are, with rare exceptions, considered to be South Korean nationals under South Korean law. This article explores the implications. Given this dual nationality, are North Koreans necessarily refused refugee status, because they can be protected in South Korea? Or are there still routes to refugee status that may be available? In this article, I find that North Koreans continue to have potential paths forward in their search for refugee status in the West. There are, broadly speaking, four different types of protection arguments evident in the jurisprudence from major host states. These are: that an asylum seeker possesses a well-founded fear of persecution in South Korea as well as North Korea, that South Korean nationality does not provide a right to enter the country, and should therefore be disregarded; that South Korean nationality should not be recognized because it is not bestowed in a manner consistent with international norms; and that an individual asylum seeker falls into an exceptional category whereby he or she lacks South Korean nationality. Each of these arguments has in certain cases proved successful, at least provisionally.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been published in the Indiana International and Comparative Law Review.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JX International law
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
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