SEJONG, July 20 (Korea Bizwire) – The legal status of fetuses remains inconsistent in Korea, causing confusion for many soon-to-be parents.
Under civil law, fetuses do not count as people, thus no legal status can be given apart from certain exceptions – the right of inheritance and damage compensation. For these two exceptions, a fetus is considered to be a child and is given rights under the assumption that they will remain healthy as a fetus.
Under the income tax law, however, a fetus does not count as a dependent, and cannot be claimed as a beneficiary for a tax credit. Any insurance premiums paid for an unborn child, too, cannot be deducted from the year-end tax settlement because they are not legal deductions.
Then how are fetuses treated when bidding for an apartment presale lottery in Korea?
According to the Korea Land & Housing Corporation, an incentive can be given to a couple with an unborn child when they bid for a regular lottery of public apartments or special pre-sales for newlyweds and multi-child families. The policy has recently changed to encourage couples to have children given the extremely low birthrate in Korea.
For apartments sold by private construction companies, on the other hand, fetuses are not considered as dependents.
When filing for personal bankruptcy, the number of dependents affects the reimbursement amount and basic living expenses, and as such the legal status of an unborn child is of significant importance.
“There are certain exceptions with regards to how fetuses are defined under civil law. They are not given legal status for most cases, but exceptions must be carefully reviewed when claiming the given right,” said Hwang Yoon-sang, an attorney at Justice Law Group.
By Nonnie Kim (email@example.com)