A South Korean court on Wednesday gave a suspended prison sentence to a Japanese man who repeatedly went out during a self-quarantine period amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The man, in his 20s, entered South Korea in early April, and was later arrested and indicted for violating a self-quarantine order placed on international arrivals, after going outside several times without permission during the two-week period.

The Seoul Western District Court sentenced the man to six months in prison, suspended for two years. In reaching the decision, the court cited his admission of guilt and the fact that he did not spread the novel coronavirus as he had tested negative.

The prosecution had demanded six months in prison. The defense asked for a fine, claiming that the man had apparently misunderstood the meaning of quarantine.

South Korea has come down harshly on those flouting the self-quarantine order. To date, over 670 people have been cited, with criminal prosecution sought in cases deemed flagrant violations.

The Japanese man was the first foreigner to be arrested for violating self-quarantine.

South Korea reported 39 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, 28 of them involving people arriving from overseas.