In your memorandum, you asked a question involving foreign law: i.e., whether, under
South Korean law, the adoption of Park Chan Y by Park Neung W had any effect on the
relationship of Park Change Y as the stepchild of Arthur E. G , deceased wage earner.
The pertinent facts of the case, as presented in your memorandum, appear to be the
following: The claimant, alleged spouse of the deceased wage earner, filed a claim
for mother's benefits and for child's benefits on behalf of her son, Park, as the
stepchild of the wage earner. Park was born on August 27, 1957. The only evidence
presented to establish his roots was a certified copy of the family register. This
copy indicates that his father is unknown and that his mother is the claimant. The
claimant married the wage earner in Seoul, South Korea, on December 22, 1964. At the
time of this marriage, the wage earner was still married to his first wife. The first
wife obtained a divorce from the wage earner in May 13, 1971. The wage earner and
the claimant came to the U.S. in 1972. Park was left behind in Korea to finish his
schooling and was adopted by Park Neung W in April 1972. The claimant alleges that
Korean law requires a child to have someone legally responsible for the child while
he or she remains in Korea.
We asked the Law Library, Library of Congress, for assistance on the issue of whether
the adoption of a stepchild by a third person has any effect on the relationship of
that child as the stepchild of a stepparent. We received a letter reply which provides
"A valid adoption must be registered with the Family Registrar under Article 787 of
the Civil Code (Law No. 471, effective on January 1, 1960), which provides that
. . . [a]n adoption becomes effective by notification thereof in accordance with the
provisions of the Family Registration Law.
The notification mentioned in the preceding paragraph must be made in writing with
the joint signature of both parties and two witnesses.
In interpreting the above Article, Professor, Chu-su K discussed the effects of a
valid adoption, pointing out that “an adoption would not affect the adopted child's previous family relations including
his relation to the parents.” (K , Chusok Ch'inzok Sangsokpop [A Commentary on the Laws of the Relatives and Succession].
On the basis of Professor K statement, it appears that the child in question became
the stepchild of the deceased wage earner when the latter married the child's mother,
and remained the same even after he was adopted by another person"
Based on the above, we conclude that, under the laws of South Korea, if applicable,
the adoption of Park by Park Neung W may not effect the stepchild relationship between
Park and the wage earner.