Chapter 7: Republic of Korea
Whon-Il Park South Koreans are familiar with the words of a song, ‘My RR Card’. In 1997, a Korean rock singer roused sympathy by the following lines: Korean citizens hold RR cards I’m bearing in mind 800216-1068312 This number is more important than my name Engraved in my head The number will be alive until I die Without the resident registration card, South Koreans have trouble getting inside government buildings, or applying for financial transactions and website membership. Sometimes they are asked by policemen to show the identity card on the street. Transsexuals have more troubles with these cards. While the first group of the resident registration number means the birthday (yy/mm/dd), the following seven digits denote the sex and residential information of the holder. So it is troublesome to hold a card which shows a different sexual identity from his/her appearance. Some transsexuals filed a lawsuit with the court to change the sex digit, but only a few succeeded. Until June 2006, when the Supreme Court approved the change of sex in the family census registry, judges would not have allowed such change. HISTORY OF PRIVACY PROTECTION At first, holding the resident registration card was mandatory for the purpose of national security. But the situation has drastically changed in the past 40 years. With unparalleled economic development and democratization of the Korean society, the resident registration number is no longer indispensable to protect the country. On the contrary, it could be a Big Brother’s weapon. The fate of this...
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