Ukrainians and others in Korea protest Russian invasion
They numbered approximately 200.
"Please support Ukraine and its people who are struggling with all their might to protect democracy," said Olena Shchegel, a Ukrainian professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
"We hereby ask the Korean government, as well as the presidential contenders, to help Ukraine resist Russia, by means such as economic sanctions on Russia," she said.
Many in the rally held up signs, as well as posters of what looked like an edited photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin with a Hitler mustache. Under the photo it said, "Stop Putler, Stop Ukraine genocide."
The rally attendees marched from the embassy to Seoul Plaza and other landmarks. They included long-time residents of Korea, such as Ostaf Stepanyuk, a Ukrainian monk practicing in Seoul.
"I have been trying hard to reach my best friend, a military officer in Ukraine," Stepanyuk told the JoongAng Ilbo. "I have not heard back from him since the invasion."
Koreans also attended the demonstration.
"My parents in law have been unable to evacuate the country," said Park Shin-young, a 38-year-old woman married to a Ukrainian citizen. "They are at the moment hiding in an underground bunker of an apartment."
A group of Russian residents in Korea hosted a separate rally on Sunday, also protesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"I am ashamed of my country, and I detest Putin," said Maxim, a 25-year-old Russian student in Korea, who gave only his first name in speaking with the JoongAng Ilbo. "There are many Russians against this war. Ukraine is not Russia's enemy."
Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, launching an attack by land, air and sea. The invasion happened within a few days of Putin's recognition of the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.
The Korean government on Thursday announced it will join international economic sanctions on Ukraine, including those by the United States, but dismissed the idea of imposing sanctions on the country independently.
"There are Korean companies and Koreans in Russia, with trade with Russia also growing, and these are factors we cannot ignore," said Park Soo-hyun, senior presidential secretary for public communication, in a TBS radio program on Friday, when asked about whether Korea will impose independent sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Several petitions have been submitted to the Blue House since, requesting the Korean government impose "direct and independent sanctions on Russia," including one submitted on Sunday.
"Korea is a country that has achieved remarkable development since the Korean War based on capitalism and liberal democracy," the petition read. "We ask the Korean government, a global success story on democracy, to stand in solidarity with Ukraine."
Ukraine took center stage during a televised presidential debate Friday, as ruling Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung and main opposition People Power Party Yoon Suk-yeol showcased differences in how they understood the crisis.
"Look at what the Moon administration is trying to do — end the war by signing a piece of paper," Yoon said during the debate, referring to Moon's plan to declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice.
"But look at Ukraine's case," Yoon said. "Declarations and agreements did not save the country from its current peril."
Yoon has emphasized preemptive strike capacity as one of his security strategies during the presidential campaign.
Lee in criticizing Yoon as a newbie to politics and possibly at risk of instigating "unnecessary conflicts" with his security strategies, made a statement about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"A six-month-old novice politician became president and provoked Russia by professing to join NATO," Lee said.
He apologized the next day for his expressions regarding the crisis, adding that he "fully supports the position and efforts of the Ukrainian people and government to freedom and peace" and that he "strongly condemns" Russia's aggression.
As of Saturday, 47 Koreans remained in the Ukraine, according to the Foreign Ministry. Eight were on the move to neighboring countries and another eight had plans to evacuate in the near future.
BY NA UN-CHAE, ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]