Yoo Seung Jun Personally Addresses Controversies In First Major Network Interview In 17 Years
After he was banned from Korea 17 years ago, Yoo Seung Jun sat down for his first interview with a major network to discuss his past controversies.
Yoo Seung Jun was a popular Korean singer in the 2000s who actively promoted on stage and TV shows. He publicly stated that he would fulfill his mandatory military duties on several occasions, but then obtained American citizenship in 2002 and relinquished his Korean citizenship, becoming exempt from mandatory military service. Since then, he has been banned from entering the country by the Ministry of Justice.
This past July, the Korean Supreme Court sided with the singer, opening the possibility of him returning to Korea after almost 20 years.
On the September 17 episode of SBS’s “Night of Real Entertainment,” Yoo Seung Jun shared, “I was really nervous. I didn’t know I would get an interview on a major network.” He continued, “Honestly, I have never stated myself, without being prompted, that I would go to the military. A news reporter I knew said to me, ‘Since you’re of age now, you have to go to the military.’ I told them without thinking, ‘Yes, if I have to go, then I will.’ The next day, the cover of sports newspapers read, ‘Yoo Seung Jun volunteers to go to the military.'” He said that although he released an explanatory statement, it was difficult to switch public perception.
When reporters asked again to confirm his intentions to enlist, he told them, “Since this is an experience that all Korean men go through, I don’t think it’s that bad. I don’t plan on breaking the law or taking any shortcuts.”
In the SBS interview, the singer continued, “Now that I think about it, I feel like I was pushed. I was really going to go. Although my promise was sincere, I just couldn’t follow through with it. I am not a vile person who decided to get an American citizenship first, then stated ‘I am going to enlist’ before disappearing.”
For personal reasons, Yoo Seung Jun ended up changing his mind and was planning on holding a press conference to explain himself, but was banned from the country instead. He shared that it was the advice of his father and pastor who convinced him to change his mind. He explained, “I am not trying to hide behind my father and pastor. Since I am the one who made the decision, the responsibility of that falls onto me.”
For the past 17 years, Yoo Seung Jun has tried numerous times to return to Korea. Four years ago, he held an online broadcast to apologize, but got caught up in accusations of swearing. He explained, “I did not swear. It’s the voice of a staff member. The sincere feelings I tried to portray while crying was all for nothing.”
He also addressed the controversies surrounding his visa and taxes. Yoo Seung Jun commented, “I have no plans to begin promoting again for profit in Korea. I can’t even step foot in Korea. No matter what visa I have, I can’t go in. I can’t even get a tourist visa.”
His lawyer recommended an F-4 visa as the only way for him to re-enter Korea, stating, “The F-4 visa provides the opportunity to expand his promotion options. In terms of his lawsuit, we had no choice but to apply for a visa for special cases of people living outside their native country. The F-4 visa was the only option.”
Regarding taxes, the singer explained, “If I threw away my American citizenship because I was afraid of taxes, I wouldn’t come to Korea. I would instead go to a country with low tariffs. It’s true that I am not trying to obtain a Korean citizenship. I just want to be allowed to enter.”
Lawyer Shin Dong Wook, who is an expert in taxes, commented, “With just the fact that he obtained an F-4 visa, it’s a stretch to say it was in an attempt to avoid taxes or receive special treatment. Even if he were to pay only 50 percent of taxes in Korea, when he pays 100 percent in the United States, only the 50 percent that he paid in Korea is deducted and the remaining 50 percent must be paid in the United States.”
When asked why he wants to return to Korea, Yoo Seung Jun replied, “I was born in Korea and I love Korea. I just miss it. My wife says, ‘Shouldn’t we move on and live our lives?’ but that’s not easy. It’s my identity and my roots.”
Yoo Seung Jun continued, “Once the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court, I told my lawyer I wanted to withdraw. Even though it was overturned, I had a hard time. I was confused, wondering, ‘Can I do this again?’ If that result comes out again, I don’t think I will be able to go through with it.”