South Korean ex-Navy SEAL-turned YouTuber Ken Rhee claims he has no regrets fighting in Ukraine and says it would have been a “crime” not to use his military experience to help.
In an interview with AFP, Rhee compared fighting in Ukraine to saving a drowning person to illustrate why he felt it was his moral duty to serve despite the fact that the South Korean government had made it illegal to travel to Ukraine.
“You’re walking down the beach and you see a sign by the water saying ‘no swimming’ — but you see someone drowning. It’s a crime not to help. That’s how I see it,” the 38-year-old serviceman, who has openly criticized the South Korean government for withholding support, said.
“I have the skillset. I have the experience. I was in two different wars, and going to Ukraine, I knew I could help,” he added, equating his illegal travel to Ukraine to a “traffic violation.”
Rhee initially announced on March 6 that he and his hand-selected team of special forces had “informally” left South Korea for Ukraine.
Rhee was aware that he could return home to prison time and a fine of 10 million won ($8,115) for entering a travel-banned country but says he was ready to face the consequences.
By May 16, he was promoted to a leadership position in the Ukrainian military given his “special operations experience.”
He returned to South Korea on May 27 due to injury and was reportedly escorted by 15 police officers to baggage claim at the Incheon Airport.
Rhee shared that people leaving the frontlines during his time in Ukraine would joke, “See you in Taiwan,” alluding to the possibility of invasion by China should they follow Russia’s example.