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Korean salesman fined for visiting Syria without permission

Lee Tae-hoon
Written by Lee Tae-hoon

A local court has fined a South Korean television salesman for visiting Syria, which is on the travel ban list, without getting permission from the government, officials said Tuesday.

The Seoul Central District Court fined the man whose identity was withheld, 300,000 won (US$258) for visiting Syria last year for three days in violation of the passport act.

Seoul has imposed a travel ban on Syria since 2011 for safety risks, such as civil war and threats of terrorism from the Islamic State.

Under the regulation, any travelers who wish to visit banned regions — Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Syria — must receive permission from the government.

The defendant entered Syria on Sept. 16, 2014 by land through Beirut, about a week before the United States launched strikes on the country on Sept. 22.

The 37-year-old claimed he was seeking national interest as the conflict-ridden country has a lot of sales opportunities.

The court, however, ruled that the damage he could have incurred by getting involved in a dangerous situation is much larger than the profits he would have brought to the country by selling local products.

It also pointed out that the company’s sales outcome does not have a direct relation to national interest.

In 2007, 23 South Koreans were abducted by the Taliban while traveling unescorted in Afghanistan on a medical aid mission. Two male hostages were killed and the rest were freed after more than 40 days.

About the author

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon is publisher at The Korea Observer. He previously worked for the Korea Times and Arirang TV. You can reach him at lee@koreaobserver.com.

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