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South Korea: First Court Order to Return Children to Another Country Under the Hague Convention

(Feb. 23, 2016) On February 15, 2016, the Seoul Family Court ordered a Korean father to return his two children to his wife in Japan.  (Hyun-jeong Lee, Court Orders Korean Dad to Return Children to Separated Japanese Wife, KOREA HERALD (Feb. 15, 2016).)  It is the first case in Korea in which a court ordered children to be returned abroad under the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Oct. 25, 1980, T.I.A.S. No. 11,670, 1343 U.N.T.S. 89).  The Convention became effective in Korea on March 1, 2013, and in Japan on April 1, 2014.  (Status Table, 28: Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (last updated Dec. 16, 2015), Hague Conference on Private International Law website.)

The parents married in 2005 in Japan and separated in 2013.  The wife had physical custody of the two sons (currently ten and eight years old).  The husband took the two sons to Korea in July 2015 under the promise that he would bring them back  to Japan after their visit to the husband’s father, who was in frail health.  However, after they entered Korea, the husband severed contact with his wife.  The wife filed a petition for the children’s return with the Seoul Family Court.  (Yong-jin Che, Children Taken to Korea, to Be Returned to Their Mother in Japan, CHOSUNILBO (Feb. 15, 2016) (in Japanese) (on file with author.)