An active-duty South Korean marine who made an unauthorized overseas trip – allegedly attempting to reach Ukraine – has been arrested after returning home, the Seoul military said Monday.
The soldier, whose identity was withheld, left South Korea without permission during his service on March 21, the Marine Corps said in a statement, adding that he was arrested immediately after returning home.
South Korea banned its nationals from traveling to Ukraine shortly before the conflict broke out this year over security concerns.
Soldiers on active duty are not allowed to travel abroad without prior authorization and leaving without authorization is considered desertion, which is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
“We will take strict action in accordance with laws and regulations after we investigate why he left his service,” the Marine Corps said.
According to Yonhap news agency, the man flew to Poland in an apparent attempt to join the Ukrainian army in the fight against Russia.
However, he was unable to enter the war-torn country because entry was denied at the Polish-Ukrainian border, Yonhap reported.
It is widely believed that the unidentified Marine uploaded a YouTube video on April 9 saying he was having a “difficult time” in the South Korean armed forces.
“But I couldn’t help but act when I heard about Ukraine, where people are facing a much more difficult situation,” he said in the footage, his face hidden from view.
‘Voluntary Combatant’ killed
The Defense Department said the man was a conscript.
All able-bodied South Korean men must serve in the military for nearly two years, largely because of the threat of conflict with nuclear-armed North Korea.
The two Koreas technically remain at war, as their 1950-53 conflict ended with a ceasefire and not a peace treaty.
Reports of bullying and other abuses have long tainted the South Korean military. Such cases have previously led to suicides and fatal shootings.
The announcement came days after Seoul’s foreign ministry said it had received information that at least one South Korean volunteer fighter – who entered Ukraine without government authorization – has died.
Seoul banned its citizens from traveling to Ukraine in mid-February, but there are four South Korean nationals who will be in the country as of Friday, the ministry added.
“We urge South Koreans who entered Ukraine without authorization to leave the country as soon as possible,” the ministry said.
“There are serious concerns for your personal safety due to the intensification of hostilities in southeastern Ukraine.”
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)