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(LEAD) Military captures Marine one month after unauthorized trip to Eastern Europe

All News 09:40 April 25, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with details in 4th para; RECASTS lead; ADDS bylines)
By Song Sang-ho and Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, April 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military on Monday took custody of a Marine draftee who flew to Poland without approval about a month ago apparently to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

The military police captured him upon his arrival back home earlier in the day, according to the Marine Corps.

The man, whose name was withheld from the media, left for Poland on March 21. He later attempted to enter Ukraine via the Polish border but was denied access to the war-torn country.

South Korean military officials and diplomats had since tried to persuade him to return home. They could not force him to fly back home in a region outside South Korea's jurisdiction.

"We will take steps in a stern manner in accordance with law and regulations, after investigating why he had left his area of duty," the Marine Corps said in a statement.

By law, active service members must get prior approval before traveling overseas during vacation. Otherwise, they can be punished for desertion.

South Korea has banned its citizens from traveling to Ukraine since mid-February amid safety concerns.

colin@yna.co.kr
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