Koreans in Ukraine were ordered to evacuate immediately.
“We have been in contact with all our citizens in the country and encourage them to leave,” a foreign ministry official said on Sunday.
According to the ministry, 306 Koreans were residing in Ukraine on Sunday, including 211 in Kyiv. The group includes business people, missionaries and students.
“We are also trying to find out if there are any Korean citizens who have not reported their residence status in Ukraine to the Korean government,” the official said.
At midnight on Saturday, the ministry issued a travel ban to Ukraine, which prohibits all incoming travel to Ukraine and also forces all Koreans in Ukraine to leave. Violators can be fined up to 10 million won ($8,330) or sentenced to up to one year in prison.
The announcement came as other countries, such as the United States, Canada and Britain, withdrew their citizens from the country, including families of diplomats.
Key officials around the world, including US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, have warned of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine. Sullivan told a press briefing on Friday that the invasion could take place before the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 20.
The Korean Embassy in Kyiv will continue to operate for the time being, according to the ministry.
The United States, Britain and Russia have begun withdrawing their diplomats from the city, and other governments, including Australia, have announced similar plans.
Koreans leaving Ukraine must be transferred to a third country in Europe as there are no direct flights between Ukraine and Korea. They can also choose to fly to Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova or other neighboring countries and stay there temporarily.
The Foreign Ministry was on Sunday examining the possibility of providing government-provided evacuation flights to repatriate Koreans directly to Korea.
“In order to provide more transportation for the urgent departure of Korean residents, the ROK Embassy may provide chartered flight for residents,” or ground transportation, the Korean Embassy in Ukraine said on Sunday. in a press release. “We are working on a plan.”
In the event of an invasion or armed conflict in the country, the ministry has designated four zones inside the country – two in Kyiv and one in the southern city of Lviv and another in the southwestern city of Odessa – as emergency evacuation centers for Korean citizens.
BY PARK HYUN-JU, ESTHER CHUNG [[email protected]]