U.S. popular birthplace for S. Koreans

? Kim Chang Kyu, an obstetrician and gynecologist with a practice in the wealthy Kangnam neighborhood of Seoul, estimates that as many as 5,000 South Korean babies about 1 percent of annual South Korean births are born in the United States each year. In his practice alone, about 10 maternity patients each month deliver in the United States.

They are motivated by a desire to get their children into American schools, which are considered less grueling and often better quality than South Korea’s, and, in the case of boys, to keep them out of the 26-month mandatory military service.

Others believe that having a child who is a U.S. citizen will help the parents immigrate and will make it easier to open bank accounts in the United States in order to get around strict South Korean laws regarding foreign currency.

Although it is seldom voiced, Kim says some of his patients also have a nagging fear that South Korea could become engulfed in another devastating war with North Korea, and they would like a way out if that happens.