More than 30,000 Koreans gave up their nationality in the first 10 months of this year, the highest number in a decade, a Justice Ministry report said Sunday.
The report said 23,791 Koreans lost their nationality as they adopted another between January and October, and 6,493 renounced it.
The figure is a stark rise over the annual average of around 20,000 in the past 10 years. Those who renounced their passport had dual nationality but gave up their Korean passport, while the rest lost it automatically as they became naturalized somewhere else.
The Justice Ministry said the surge was mostly due to the enactment in May of a stronger law that forced many men to give up their Korean passports or face the military draft here.
But emigration also increased. In the January-October period, 21,022 Koreans obtained foreign citizenship, up 3,305 from last year and 2,097 more than the annual average in the last decade.
Song Hee-kyeong, the floor leader of the opposition Liberty Korea Party, blamed the government. "As the government's income-led growth policy has backfired and led to low growth, dwindling jobs and a harsher reality, more Koreans are seeking to start over abroad," she said.