Embassy urges Koreans to leave Ukraine as shelling intensifies
The Korean Embassy in Ukraine urged Korean citizens to leave the country as soon as possible as Russia-backed shelling intensified in the eastern Donbas region over the weekend.
"Those remaining in the country should leave immediately, given the statement by U.S. President Joe Biden on an impending Russian invasion, the continued shelling of Donbas and the situation in Donetsk," the embassy said in a statement on Saturday. "Please evacuate or at least move to safer areas such as Lviv or Odessa."
Shelling in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine picked up over the weekend as the pro-Russian self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine started mobilizing men.
Suh Hoon, director of national security, hosted an emergency National Security Council meeting on Sunday to discuss the Ukraine situation.
The government is aware of 68 Koreans currently in Ukraine as of 6 p.m. Saturday, according to the Foreign Ministry. They include 14 missionaries, five students and a group of 49 people listed as self-employed Koreans and permanent residents in Ukraine. There are 10 additional Koreans in Crimea, according to the ministry.
Of the Koreans in Ukraine, some 40 are scheduled to leave, the ministry said.
The Foreign Ministry issued a travel ban to Ukraine on Feb. 12, and ordered all Koreans in the country to evacuate immediately.
Anyone who violates the order can be fined up to 10 million won ($8,360) or sentenced to up to a year in prison.
Despite the government order, some Koreans, including those with permanent residency, have expressed a desire to stay in the country. They number around 30 as of Saturday, according to the ministry.
“We are still speaking with them so that they can change their mind and evacuate from the country or move to safer areas such as Lviv,” said the ministry in its statement on Sunday. “As the dangerous situation in Ukraine continues, Korean citizens staying in the country are requested to evacuate and withdraw as soon as possible.”
In late January there were around 565 Koreans in Ukraine.
“We also ask all the citizens who may not have reported their residence in Ukraine to the Korean government to do so immediately,” said the ministry.
The Korean Embassy in Ukraine began handing out survival packs to Korean citizens remaining in the country over the weekend.
“The embassy is distributing emergency backpacks to assist the remaining citizens to withdraw from Ukraine and move to a safe place,” said the Korean Embassy in Ukraine in a statement issued on Saturday.
The package — which comes in a bright red backpack — includes a radio, flashlight, Swiss army knife, a first-aid kit, blanket, raincoat, flint fire starter, a compass that also works as a whistle and masks.
The embassy instructed Koreans to visit the embassy building in Kyiv in designated hours from Saturday to Monday to pick up the survival pack. The embassy said it can also ship the packs to those who cannot travel to Kyiv.
The packs will also be available at an interim embassy office in Lviv, a city in the eastern Ukraine and near the border with Poland, from Tuesday.
The Korean Embassy will continue to operate in Kyiv for the time being, according to the ministry.
In case of an invasion or armed conflict in the country, the ministry has designated four areas within the country — two in Kyiv, one in Lviv and one in the southwestern city Odessa — as emergency evacuation centers for Korean citizens. It has also opened interim offices in Lviv and Przemysl in Poland.
Other embassies have also been rounding up their nationals to leave Ukraine as soon as possible, including the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, India, the Netherlands, Italy and Jordan. The U.S. Embassy and the British Embassy in Kyiv have also been withdrawing diplomats.