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Korean-Filipino children win paternity suit against their Korean father

2014/06/22 11:38

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- Two boys raised by their Filipino mother after being abandoned by their South Korean father have won a paternity suit here to confirm their blood relationship, court officials said Sunday, a ruling that is bound to have implications for thousands of others like them.

The Seoul Family Court ruled that the two boys, who live in the Philippines, are the biological children of the Korean man based on genetic test results and the children's Filipino birth certificate in which the man was named as their father.

It marks the first time that a "Kopino," which refers to children of mixed Korean and Filipino descent of an unwed Filipino mother, won a suit in South Korea to confirm the biological father.

The father, who is married with children in South Korea, went to the Philippines alone to run a company and had two boys with a local woman with whom he lived with there, according to court documents. The man, however, severed contact after abruptly returning home 10 years ago, according to the documents.

Names of all people involved in the case were withheld for privacy reasons.

The mother came to South Korea and filed a lawsuit on behalf of the children with help from a lawyer whom she met through a South Korean center that supports marriage immigration in December 2012.

The ruling, if upheld by the top court, will allow the Filipino woman to demand child support from the father.

Cho Dong-shik, the woman's lawyer, said the mother did not sue the father for financial gains.

"I understand she wants to have the two boys included in the man's official family registry and be raised in South Korea," he said.

Civic activists working to help Kopinos say the ruling will have a broad impact as the Kopino population has increased greatly in recent years. Korean men are known to go on sex tours to the Philippines and father children.

There is no official tally on the number of Kopinos. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the number is estimated at 30,000, citing data from ECPAT International, a global network dedicated to protecting children from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation. Local activists in the Philippines estimate the number at about 10,000.

sshim@yna.co.kr

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