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South Korea rejects asylum appeals of five Russians who fled draft. They’ve been living in Seoul airport since November

Five Russian citizens who escaped the country to avoid mobilisation are stuck in the Seoul airport, Vladimir Maraktaev, a 23-year-old student from Buryatia who is one of them, told The Korea Times.

On 24 September, Maraktaev received a draft note and a few hours later he left home. According to the man, he and his friends reached Mongolia, then went to the Philippines and several days later flew into South Korea.

“I find it nothing to be ashamed of to defend my country. I would volunteer (to fight) if someone attacks us and put my loved ones in danger,” said Maraktaev. “But it’s a totally different story when my own country is the aggressor. I will never take weapons to go and kill innocent people in Ukraine.”

The men touched down in Seoul’s Incheon International Airport on 12 November. They were seeking a refugee status in South Korea but the national authorities denied their request, noting that they do not view dodging draft as a reason to secure this status.

South Korean lawyers granted to the five men by the state have appealed the decision. If unsuccessful, they could be deported back to Russia.

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“These men face persecution in their home country based on their perceived political opinion, which qualifies them for asylum status in accordance with international standards. The ministry should be well aware of that,” their legal representative Lee Jong-chan said.

The Korea Times notes that South Korea only granted 1.3% of all asylum appeals in 2021. It is the second-lowest number in G20.

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