Promising boxer from Ukraine dreams of representing Korea

The Morning Mails

Promising boxer from Ukraine dreams of representing Korea

Anatolii Yem, right, a teenage boxer from Ukraine who moved to Korea last year after Russia began its invasion of his home country, holds hands with Gimhae Mayor Hong Tae-yong at Gimhae City Hall, March 3. Courtesy of Gimhae City By Jun Ji-hye Gimhae City in South Gyeongsang Province is pushing for special naturalization of a teenage boxer from Ukraine who has moved to Korea after Russia began its invasion of his home country last year. Anatolii Yem entered Korea in March last year ― a month after the outbreak of the war ― to live with his parents who had already moved to Korea for work. Yem's ethnically Korean Ukrainian father and Ukrainian mother came to Korea in 2020 and 2021, respectively, with working visas, and settled in the southeastern city. Yem was an experienced junior boxer in Ukraine, having won medals at several international events, including a silver medal at EUBC European Schoolboys and Schoolgirls Boxing Championships in 2019.

Fortunately, he could resume training at a boxing gym in Gimhae, but as a Ukrainian national, he can neither join a team nor participate in tournaments in Korea. In a bid to help the teenager not give up his dream of becoming a boxing star, Gimhae City issued a letter of recommendation, Feb. 23, to support Yem's special naturalization. Two boxing associations and a global youth center based in Gimhae as well as the gym and Yem's current school ― Gimhae Construction Technical High School ― have also joined hands to support his application. The law for special naturalization stipulates that the government can grant citizenship to those who hold special talents and can contribute to the nation's development.

"I hope Yem will be able to acquire Korean citizenship as soon as possible," Gimhae Mayor Hong Tae-yong said during his meeting with Yem on March 3. "Gimhae City will give him full support so he can become a top international boxer." In response, Yem said, "I am extremely grateful to the many people who are helping me. I will express my gratitude to Korea by becoming an excellent boxer." Gimhae City said an application for Yem's special naturalization will be submitted to the Ministry of Justice soon.

If approved, Yem will join a boxing team run by Gimhae City Sports Council.

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