By: April Carson
To avoid being drafted for the war in Ukraine, groups of Russians have sailed to South Korea; however, most have been refused entry at the border.
Data from the South Korean coast guard suggests that since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced potential military action last month, five boats carrying 23 people have arrived in South Korea. This follows military and territorial losses that Russia has recently experienced in Ukraine.
The coast guard has so far refused entry to all but one of the boats, and it is unclear what will happen to the people on board. The Russian embassy in Seoul has not responded to requests for comment.
Since Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called for 300,000 reservists to be drafted, Russian men of fighting age have been leaving the country in droves to avoid being conscripted. Thousands have gone to neighboring countries such as Georgia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, as well places farther afield like Turkey.
Car traffic jammed border crossings, some planes had no empty seats, but now it appears that some Russians are taking even more severe actions to escape being drafted.
An Ho-young, an opposition Democratic Party legislator in South Korea said Thursday by phone that 23 Russian nationals had applied for tourist visas.
21 people were not allowed to enter South Korea because the purpose for their visit was either unclear or there wasn't enough documentation.
Two people who managed to obtain visas have already left the country, and the other 20 are expected to depart soon, according to An.
South Korea has no diplomatic relations with North Korea's southern neighbor, making it difficult for Seoul to confirm the reports.
Both of the applicants who were successful had documents that showed they had been to South Korea in the past.
“As more people try to leave Russia, it's probable that Korea will become a stopover,” An said. He also noted that it was crucial for the government to take actions in preparation for an potential influx of men who are trying to avoid being drafted into the army. This could easily turn into a diplomatic and human rights issue if not handled correctly.
Although Russian citizens don't need a visa to travel to South Korea, immigration officials have the authority to refuse entry into the country, he said.
As of now, there is no specific policy in place to deal with this potential issue, but the government is said to be considering its options. It is important that they act quickly and efficiently in order to ensure that any men who are trying to escape conscription are able to do so without facing any obstacles.
A 17-ton yacht carrying 10 Russian nationals entered South Korean waters but did not dock.
On October 1st, Russian sailors requested to dock in the city of Busan in South Korea. However, since they couldn't provide a valid reason for their travel, immigration authorities refused them entry into the country.
An said that the boat eventually docked in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, north of Busan. The boat then set out to sea again at 5 p.m. last Tuesday with all of its passengers on board.
The coast guard also reported the arrival of a 6-ton yacht in South Korea on Oct. 1. The boat's occupants requested to dock in Sokcho so that six passengers could come ashore, but were again denied permission.
After originally setting sail for Vladivostok on October 5, the boat was forced to make a stopover on Ulleung Island due to dangerous weather and seas. It finally departed South Korean waters this Tuesday.
An said that, according to coast guard records, one Russian boat is still docked in Pohang after officials discovered it last Tuesday. The four people onboard were not allowed entrance.
The maritime police have now beefed up their patrols in the area to keep a close eye on any suspicious activity.
Friday, in a telephone interview, a South Korean Justice Ministry spokesperson stated that the Russian visitors went through immigration just like everybody else and were denied entry to South Korea because they didn't meet the visa requirements.
"All visitors intending to go to South Korea must have at least an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization), KETA (Korea Electronic Travel Authorization) or other forms of visa," the spokesperson said. "However, those Russians who were not allowed entry failed to provide any kind of entrance visa."
This comes as tensions between Russia and South Korea have been mounting in recent months, with Moscow accusing Seoul of provocative actions near the countries' shared maritime border. In November, the Russian defense ministry even released a video showing what it claimed was a South Korean military vessel firing at a Russian patrol boat.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has not yet commented on the situation.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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