YouTuber Ken Rhee claims to have left for Ukraine to serve in volunteer army
YouTuber Ken Rhee, known for his military training series “Fake Men” on YouTube, claimed he and a number of men recently left for Ukraine to serve as part of a volunteer army in the battle against the Russian invasion, on Sunday.
Rhee, whose real name is Rhee Keun, was formerly a lieutenant in the Korean Navy’s Naval Special Warfare Flotilla, also known as UDT/SEAL, until he was discharged in 2014. The YouTuber announced his departure on his Instagram and YouTube “Rokseal” on Sunday.
“When the Ukrainian president requested the world for help, ‘Rokseal’ immediately prepared for a volunteer mission,” he wrote. “I coordinated a plan and prepared equipment within 48 hours.”
Rhee added that while he “tried to leave for Ukraine through an official process,” he received a response from the Korean government that he “will be treated as a criminal if he enters a country under a travel ban, and face a year in prison or a 10-million-won [$8,150] fine.”
According to a foreign ministry official, however, Lee never inquired with the government about an official way to travel to Ukraine.
Under current Korean law, anyone who disobeys a government travel ban can be sentenced to up to a year in prison or face a fine of up to 10 million won. When asked whether it was illegal to join the Ukrainian military, a senior official at the Foreign Affairs Ministry told the Korea JoongAng Daily on March 3 that the Korean government has banned Korean passport holders from traveling to Ukraine, implying that anyone who violates this ban could be subject to legal punishment.
Rhee wrote he decided to join the fight on Ukraine’s side nonetheless.
“Even if I face punishment, we can’t just sit here without helping Ukraine through our technology, knowledge and expertise,” wrote Lee.
“We did not share our plans with anyone except a few insiders, because my team and I had to leave and arrive in Ukraine through an unofficial process,” he continued. “If I make it back alive, I will take full responsibility and face the punishments. Since this is Korea’s first volunteer army, I will represent Korea and enhance our national status.”
BY HALEY YANG [email@example.com]