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K-Pop Legend Who Dodged Military Service Still Banned From South Korea

Yoo Seung-jun

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    South Korea has declined action on a Korean American singer’s calls to be granted a visa to enter the country.

    Yoo Seung-jun, also known as Steve Yoo (@yooseungjun_official), renounced his South Korean citizenship in 2002 to allegedly escape from the nation’s mandatory military service.


    As a result, the government banned him from entering the country for 18 years.

    However, the singer is still unable to return in the foreseeable future, since he could not obtain the visa he needs.

    In a social media post on Monday, the 43-year-old urged Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha to reconsider allowing him entry, claiming that the ban violates his human rights.

    Yoo’s request came after Kang told lawmakers that he would not be granted a visa, despite an earlier ruling of the Supreme Court that the ban had “procedural flaws,” according to KBS.

    In a subsequent press briefing, the Foreign Ministry maintained that it has to review “various circumstances” before granting visas. It also took Yoo’s human rights violation claim as simply “an expression of personal opinion.”

    “As we have mentioned before, visa issuance is a discretionary matter that comes after the consul takes various circumstances into account. We will decide whether to issue a visa after a comprehensive review of those circumstances, if there is a visa application,” said Deputy Ministry Spokesperson Lee Jae-woong, according to Yonhap News.


    View this post on Instagram


    #firstline Don’t forget who u a And where u come from . When time comes…. #westside #california #ysj

    A post shared by Steve Seung Jun Yoo (@yooseungjun_official) on

    After being refused an F-4 visa — the type issued to Koreans living overseas — Yoo filed a suit against the South Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles in 2015. The following year, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled that his return could demoralize soldiers currently in service and encourage conscription evasion.

    Yoo filed another suit against the same diplomatic mission more recently, banking on his victory in the Supreme Court. However, his win did not automatically mean that he can return to South Korea, as the main contentious point in his suit was whether the visa refusal was proper, The Korea Times noted.


    “I don’t want to call him Yoo Seung-jun. He is not a South Korean, but an American citizen named Steve Yoo,” said Mo Jong-hwa, chief of the Military Manpower Administration, according to The Korea Herald. “He opted to renege on his noble duty of military service, though he had promised to the public to fully fulfill the obligation.

    “If he is allowed to come in and resumes his career as a singer, it will cause a huge sense of loss among the public and frustrate our young people who sincerely serve their due duty.”

    Feature Image via @yooseungjun_official (left), ARIRANG NEWS (right)

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