SEOUL, March 7 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s foreign ministry on Monday warned of possible prison sentences against its citizens seeking to join Ukraine’s military to fight against Russia’s invasion without due approval from the government.
Seoul has banned its nationals from traveling to all regions of Ukraine since mid-February amid safety concerns. Those who enter the country without approval can face up to a year in prison or a maximum fine of 10 million won (US$8,150) under the Passport Act.
“We once again urge our citizens to seriously perceive that Ukraine is currently in war and not to enter a country that’s banned from travelling to without permission,” the ministry said in a statement.
The warning came after Rhee Keun, a Navy special warfare officer-turned-YouTuber, said he left the country to take part in the war against Russia.
The whereabouts of the retired lieutenant were not immediately clear, but he’s reportedly yet to arrive in the Eastern European country.
“We will take all possible measures,” a ministry official said, adding the government could take administrative steps, such as the invalidation of his passport.
A number of South Koreans are said to have expressed interest in participating in the war as a volunteer and made inquiries at the Ukrainian mission in Seoul after its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked volunteers from abroad to help his country fight against Russia.