The South Korean Supreme Court has issued the final details of its new family registration law, which will replace the traditional patriarchal “hoju” system, according to a June 4 Korea Herald article by Shin Hae-in, “New Law Takes on Patriarchal Family System.” The new statute will take effect on Jan. 1, 2008, and will radically change how South Koreans have legally defined a family. The current system gives mothers fewer parental rights – which contributed, in part, to the problem of legal orphans and the availability of children for overseas adoptions. Under the new law, a child born outside of marriage can be registered under the mother’s family name and not only under the father’s. The changed system would also allow children to claim a stepfather’s surname without agreement from the biological father. The new registration system also secures equal legal rights for adopted persons, on condition that the biological parents agree. Under the current system, adopted children and stepchildren have no rights to inheritance or certain rituals to honor deceased parents.
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