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South Korea: Supreme Court rules against entry ban for Korean-American singer

Last update: 11/07/2019
SEOUL, July 11 (Bernama) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favour of a Korean-American singer who has been banned from visiting South Korea after winning United States (US) citizenship about 17 years ago in an apparent attempt to evade military conscription.

According to Yonhap news agency reports, the top court ruled that it is unlawful for the South Korean government to refuse to grant an entry visa to Steve Yoo, once a successful singer here better known as Yoo Seung Jun.

Yoo became the subject of intense public criticism after he was granted US citizenship in 2002, despite his previous promise to the public to fulfill his military duty. All able-bodied South Korean men must serve in the military for about two years. Attempts by young entertainers, as well as the offspring of the rich, to avoid conscription are strongly criticised.

Yoo filed a lawsuit against a South Korean consulate in the United States in October 2015 for refusing to grant him a visa. He reportedly demanded an F-4 visa, usually issued by the government to Koreans residing overseas. The Ministry of Justice has also supported the entry ban, saying Yoo is expected to engage in activities here that could undermine the public interest and security.

In February 2017, a Seoul appellate court, upholding a lower court's decision, rejected Yoo's appeal and ruled in favour of the consulate's decision. The Seoul administrative court ruled in September 2016 that the singer's return and resumption of activities here could "demoralise soldiers who are devoting themselves to serving the country and provoke youths into evading conscription."

The Supreme Court ordered the two Seoul courts to review Yoo's case, saying Seoul's refusal to grant a visa for the singer violated the due administrative procedures.


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