SEOUL, June 23 (Korea Bizwire) – A “Kopino,” who has led a difficult life in the Philippines after being abandoned by a Korean father, won in a paternity suit in the Korean court. Kopino, or Korinoy in Filipino slang, is a child of mixed Korean and Filipino descent to an unwed Filipina mother.
Even though there were a few cases in which local advocacy groups helped Kopino plaintiffs find their biological fathers, this is the first time for them to win in a civil lawsuit seeking to find their wayward fathers.
In a situation in which a large number of Korean men tries to get easy sex in remote overseas locations, combined with Filipino culture that frowns upon abortion, the latest legal case is a warning to those who seek pleasure without responsibility.
Judge Kwon Yang-hee at the Seoul Family Court reached a verdict on June 22 that the plaintiffs, the two Kopino sons of a Korean father, were confirmed to be the children of the father.
The father, a businessman, lived in the Philippines for years without being legally married to a Filipina woman. He suddenly went back to Korea about ten years ago after which he stopped contacting the woman and refused to support his two sons financially.
The mother came to Korea with her two sons with the Korean man’s name and photo in hand. Just before their visas expired, the mother met someone in the Emergency Support Center for Migrant Women and with the help of lawyers affiliated with the center she could successfully file for the case in December 2012.
During the 18 months of the legal proceeding, the mother received financial support from the government including the 10 million won for DNA testing for her children to prove consanguinity.
The father, meanwhile, kept refusing to get the test until he was forced to do so by the court with the threat of penalties. Once the lawsuit is completed, the mother will be entitled to demand child care expenses and other items to the father.
Currently there are no definite data on the number of Kopinos. But the Wall Street Journal recently put the number within the range of 30,000, citing the statistics from ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), an international organization.
The Law Offices of Shin & Kim, in partnership with ECPAT Korea, has been active in tracking down Kopino fathers as part of its pro bono work. Kang Ki-hyo, a U.S. attorney at law, said, “We are approaching the issue very carefully because we may destroy the families in Korea while trying to do good work.”
Written by Jerry M. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)