|Singer Yoo Seung-jun speaks on Afreeca TV, pleading to be allowed to enter Korea, May 2015, 13 years after he was banned from entering the country for renouncing his Korean citizenship to evade conscription. / Captured from Afreeca|
By Kim Rahn
Opposition is growing to a Supreme Court ruling Thursday that would lift a ban on singer Yoo Seung-jun from entering Korea. The ban was imposed after Yoo evaded compulsory military service by renouncing his Korean citizenship.
Online bulletin boards have been flooded with negative comments about the singer, also known as Steve Yoo, who chose to use his U.S. nationality to evade conscription about one month before his scheduled military service in 2002.
Immediately after the court decision, a petition was posted on the Cheong Wa Dae website under the title "Please impose an entry ban on Steve Yoo again. The decision is against fairness and makes people angry."
The petitioner wrote that he felt furious at the court ruling and is confused about what is right and what is wrong.
"Do you think the decision is right, to exchange the patriotism of thousands of people fulfilling military duty for one well-off celebrity's value?" the person said.
"People who perform their duty as Koreans are Korean nationals. But the country allowed the entry of Yoo, who deceived the state, because he kept pestering them and because time has passed. Does the lousy country even recognize soldiers, who fulfill their duty and devote their life to the country, as its people?" he continued.
"It is a huge violation of the law to deceive Korea, deceive Korean people and deceive the nation's Constitution."
Several similar petitions have been uploaded, which have gained more than 120,000 signatures as of 5 p.m. on Friday.
Other internet users were also critical of Yoo's move to return to Korea, with comments on portal bulletin boards saying, "Do not apply legal equality for people who abandoned their nationality for personal gains," "You stay in your own country," and "Now all men should campaign against conscription."
But some sided with Yoo, saying he did not commit a felony and has been virtually punished for 17 years.
"He deserves criticism for dodging conscription, but I think he reflected on his actions for the last 17 years. Considering the brazen-faced people who hold public or political positions after evading military duty, the court decision for Yoo was rather fair," one internet user wrote.
Yoo, a superstar in the late 1990s, has been banned from entering Korea since early 2002 when he opted to give up his citizenship.
In Thursday's ruling, the top court ruled there were administrative flaws in the Los Angeles consulate general's 2015 rejection of Yoo's request to issue an F-4 visa for ethnic Koreans overseas. It said that other people who obtain foreign nationality to dodge the draft are given the visa when they turn 38, the age when military duty is lifted.