South Korea awards citizenship to 2 Canadian hockey players

SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- Two Canadian professional hockey players were granted South Korean citizenship Tuesday, justice ministry officials said.

The Ministry of Justice allowed Brian Young and Michael Swift to become naturalized citizens here, in accordance with a revised immigration law allowing qualified foreign nationals to hold multiple citizenships, they said.

In 2011, the Seoul government implemented the new immigration law to cut the red tape in nationality review procedures and allow talented foreigners, such as chiefs of government agencies, legal institutions and universities as well as leaders in fields of business, sports and science, to have multiple citizenships.

A total of 46 foreign nationals have since obtained South Korean passports under the law, ministry officials said.

Local sports officials last year asked the ministry to grant the two players South Korean citizenship under the special naturalization process as part of efforts to help South Korea qualify for the men's hockey competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

In March of last year, another professional ice hockey player, Brock Radunske, obtained his passport, making him the first person to be eligible for the national team.

Young, a 28-year-old defenseman for High1 of the Asia League Ice Hockey, was the voted best defense player in the 2011-12 season.

His teammate, 27-year-old Swift, was named as the MVP after scoring 90 points in just 36 games in the same season.

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