(ATTN: ADDS details in 7th para)
SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- An appeals court on Friday reversed its earlier decision and ruled in favor of a Korean-American singer who was banned from entering South Korea in a move that may allow him to finally visit the country for the first time in 17 years.
Steve Yoo, better known as Yoo Seung-jun here, had been banned from entering the country since 2002, when he became the subject of public outcry after giving up his South Korean citizenship, which critics claimed was aimed at dodging military service.
Following botched attempts to enter the country, he filed a lawsuit against the South Korean consulate general in Los Angeles in October 2015 for refusing to grant him a visa. Yoo reportedly applied for an F-4 visa, which is usually issued to Koreans living overseas.
In 2017, the Seoul High Court ruled the refusal was appropriate, but the Supreme Court in July ordered the same court to revisit the ruling, saying it violated due administrative procedure.
"If I have a chance to enter the country, I will try to sincerely communicate with people over public concerns and what I did in the past. I will contemplate ways to contribute to the society," Yoo said through his legal representative after Friday's ruling.
He also said he expects the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will make a corresponding step following the court's ruling.
The foreign ministry plans to reappeal the case with the Supreme Court, while collaborating with the justice ministry and the Military Manpower Administration.
Yoo, 43, had been a mega-hit singer until the citizenship issue sparked public fury in a country where mandatory military service is a sensitive issue.
By law, all able-bodied men have to serve in the armed forces for around two years before the age of 38.
Fresh tensions brewing in Seoul-Tokyo ties over court procedure to sell off Japanese assets
Reform committee's recommendations to diffuse chief prosecutor's power draw backlash
After six months, pandemic accelerates arrival of contactless future in S. Korea
1 year after workplace anti-bullying law took effect, challenges remain
N.K. seeks to distract from domestic hardships with liaison office demolition: experts