Yoo Seung Jun is back and weeping on AfreecaTV, asking to be allowed back into Korea after being banned back in 2002, ending what was a star music career in the country. Thankfully, neither the military nor the public is having any of that shit.
The back story to this is basically that Yoo Seung Jun is a Korean-born entertainer who shot to stardom in 1997 and sold millions of records from then until 2002. Of course, like all other stars, there was the issue of mandatory military service. Yoo Seung Jun, perhaps in the nature of his masculine and cool stage persona, would basically brag about serving in the military (all of the glittering generalities). But when push came to shove, he became a naturalized American citizen (family lived in America) to avoid military service, was labelled a deserter, and was banned from South Korea for life.
Now, 13 years later, that guy wants back in the country.
In the interview, he apologizes/begs…
“This won’t be a place where I confess my feelings; I just wanted to apologize for my wrongdoings to everyone [watching]. Minister of Justice, Director of Military Affairs, Head of Immigration Management, and to those who are currently serving in the military, I came on here today because I wanted to apologize for causing a public disturbance and disappointing everyone.”
…gives odd answers to questions about what took him so long…
“I didn’t have the courage. I wasn’t ready, either. I came out after realizing that everything was my fault. Even until last year, my pride didn’t allow me. I was the one who made the mistake, but I felt that I was the one who had been wronged.”
…and basically blames his dad for all this.
“I was healthy and I liked living in a group, so I had no bad feelings about the military, and my father had even said that I had to enlist. Even when I was young, I thought that going to the military was mandatory.”
“I didn’t have plans to obtain American citizenship nor did I lie about it. My father was the one who had filed for citizenship. I refused until the end. At the time, I didn’t go to the citizenship interview so that I could go to the military. And it was after the 9/11 attack, so it was when it was hard to reissue citizenship. At the time, I was going to Japan for a performance when the date for my interview came out and my father was the one who persuaded me to take it.”
The response to this from Korean authorities has been terse and clear.
The Military Manpower Administration put their foot down saying “there is nothing to discuss”.
“Isn’t Yoo Seung Joon of U.S. citizenship? He cast Korea away 13 years ago. He obtained U.S. citizenship so that he didn’t have to serve in the military… He is also legally not even a Korean citizen, so how can he enlist in the Korean military now? This is the same thing as telling an American to go enlist in the Korean military.”
The Justice Department also responded in a similar manner, commenting, “We know that Yoo Seung Joon gave an interview through an internet broadcast yesterday. However, the position of the Justice Department has not changed. We are not considering the restoration of his Korean citizenship nor lifting the ban at all.”
I know what the reaction in Korea is like, and I gotta say I don’t blame them at all. I haven’t read international netizen reactions yet, but it seems like they may be more lenient towards him — they shouldn’t be*.
*In addition to fucking up anyway, the laws enacted in Korea in response to him sort of fucked over foreign-born Koreans forever.
Yoo Seung Jun is not in jail, he’s not forbidden from making a living, and he’s not limited in any way, really. It’s just that he’s persona non grata in South Korea due to his military desertion and general betrayal there. Say what you will about mandatory military service, but it’s an understandable requirement in South Korea, and what he did essentially spit in the face of it.
The sob story argument about his kid and stuff doesn’t really work for me either. Yoo Seung Jun had a long time to clear this mistake up or attempt to come back, and the military even previously offered to clear the air if he’d serve (like with Psy and stuff, proof you can turn it around), but he didn’t want to do it.
So just like back then, same as now, he made a choice, he’s paying the consequences, and he deserves what he’s getting.