Some Koreans state desire to stay in Ukraine despite calls to evacuate
Some 50 Koreans residing in Ukraine have expressed their desire to stay in the country, despite the Korean government's order to evacuate immediately.
“We have some 50 Koreans, some with permanent residency in the country, who expressed their desire to stay,” said Ahn Eun-ju, deputy spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, in a press briefing at the ministry headquarters in Seoul on Tuesday. “We are taking additional safety measures, including securing emergency shelters, and are continuously trying to persuade the citizens to evacuate the nation.”
There are 153 Koreans, including staff members at the Korean Embassy in Kyiv, who remain in the country as of Wednesday. Of them, some 60 are self-employed and around 30 are missionaries, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Around 40 are expected to leave the country by the end of Thursday, according to the ministry.
“In case of an emergency, the ministry is opening interim offices on the Ukraine-Poland border area — one on the Ukraine side near Lviv and one on the Poland side near Przemysl, to aid our citizens' travel into Poland from Ukraine,” said the ministry in its statement on Wednesday.
The Korean government issued a travel ban to Ukraine, effective from last Saturday, banning all travel by Korean citizens into the country and ordering Koreans there to leave as soon as possible.
There were 565 Koreans in the country as of Jan. 25.
Anyone who violates the ban can be fined up to 10 million won ($8,300) or sentenced up to a year in prison.
The announcement came as other countries, such as the United States, Canada and Britain, have been withdrawing their citizens from the country, including families of diplomats.
In case of an invasion or armed conflict in the country, the ministry has designated four areas within the country — two in Kyiv and one in the southern city Lviv and another in the southwestern city Odessa — as emergency evacuation centers for Korean citizens.
The Korean Embassy in Kyiv will continue to operate for the time being, according to the ministry.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [email@example.com]