Korean Supreme Court Sides With Yoo Seung Jun + Opens Possibility For Him To Return To Korea After 17 Years Away
The Supreme Court has ruled that it was unlawful to deny Yoo Seung Jun a visa to enter South Korea. The latest ruling may make it possible for the former Korean singer to return to South Korea in the future.
Yoo Seung Jun was a Korean popular singer in the 2000s who actively promoted on stage and TV shows, and he publicly stated that he would fulfill his mandatory military duties on several occasions. He then obtained American citizenship in 2002, relinquished his Korean citizenship, and was exempt from mandatory military service. Since then, he has been banned from entering the country by the Ministry of Justice.
On July 11, the Supreme Court stated that the original ruling in the lawsuit filed by Yoo Seung Jun against the Korean Consulate consul general in Los Angeles was wrong, disaffirmed the ruling, and sent the case to be reassessed.
According to the Immigration Control Law, foreigners who are deemed dangerous to the interests of Korea and the safety of the public can be denied entry to the country. This also applies to those who may pose harm to the Korean economy, society, and customs.
The South Korean government said that because Yoo Seung Jun had many fans, said he would complete his mandatory military service on several TV broadcasts, obtained U.S. citizenship, and avoided military service, he could set a precedent for Korean men to avoid their service.
In September 2015, Yoo Seung Jun applied to the Korean Consulate in Los Angeles for an F-4 visa, then filed a lawsuit in October when it was refused. A few months before that in May, the singer held a tearful live broadcast where he said he wanted to enter South Korea.
The original court ruled against Yoo Seung Jun, but the Supreme Court overturned this ruling. The Supreme Court said that the consul general has discretionary power to decide whether or not to issue a visa to overseas Koreans, but they did not use that power. The court stated that it was wrong for the consul general to not issue a visa just because of the Minister of Justice’s decision on a travel ban for the singer 13 years and 7 months ago.
The Supreme Court also said, “The refusal to issue a visa to overseas Koreans, which was used on Yoo, was illegal because there was no preparation and delivery of a written notice.” The court said that it was wrong to inform the plaintiff’s father of the denial by phone on September 2, 2015, only return the passport and application, and not give the plaintiff written notice explaining the reason of the denial.
A source from the Supreme Court said, “Yoo can receive moral criticism, but the decision to ban or grant his visa should be judged separately and according to the general principles of the law. The Supreme Court judged that Yoo’s denial for a visa as an overseas Korean was illegal based on the legal limits of the entry ban decision, reasons that need to be applicable for the denial, and more.”
If the court’s ruling that the denial of the visa issuance was illegal is upheld, another disposition will take place for Yoo Seung Jun’s visa issuance. Even under the Overseas Koreans Act, Yoo Seung Jun is now over 41 years of age and no longer qualifies for military service. This now opens a possibility for Yoo Seung Jun to reenter the country. However, Yoo Seung Jun’s entry will only be possible after the consul general’s denial of his visa issuance is confirmed to be illegal, which will take some time.
A source from Yoo Seung Jun released a statement following the court’s decision.
The full statement is below:
Yoo Seung Jun and his family are sincerely grateful for the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse the judgment.
After being denied entry on February 1, 2002, Yoo Seung Jun has been denied entry for over 17 years.
Yoo Seung Jun has been unable to return to his home country where he was born, grew up in until middle school, and the place where he lived, and had to stay overseas for over 17 years. So he began to earnestly hope for a chance to return to his home country with his children.
Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision, Yoo Seung Jun and his family feel as if they have a chance to resolve their deep sorrow and feel truly grateful.
They feel deeply grateful and are relieved at the Supreme Court’s decision, but are also even more aware of the criticism and societal concern he has caused until now.
He will work hard to be of help to society, ruminate over the meaning of criticism from the public, and live the rest of his life while self-reflecting.