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South Korean Activist Alleges Torture in Chinese Prison

  • Jason Strother

Kim Young-hwan (R) a pro-North Korean activist speaks at a news conference in Seoul, July 25, 2012.

Kim Young-hwan (R) a pro-North Korean activist speaks at a news conference in Seoul, July 25, 2012.

China is denying allegations that authorities tortured a detained South Korean human rights campaigner. Kim Young-hwan says he was beaten and electrocuted by Chinese police while in their custody. Seoul wants China to open an investigation and apologize for the incident.
Activist Kim Young-hwan says he is not surprised that China denies its authorities tortured him while in jail.
On Monday, he spoke to foreign journalists in Seoul, where he acknowledged that his allegations are hard to prove.

He says China will not be able to deny the abuse for long because three other people arrested with him suffered the same torture. Kim says the South Korean government should continue to raise the issue with Beijing.
Kim and the other three activists were apprehended in northeast China in March. They are believed to have been providing assistance to North Koreans living in Chinese territory.
China frequently arrests and deports North Koreans who they say are illegal economic migrants. Human rights groups say escapees face torture, once repatriated.
Kim alleges that he was beaten, forced to take sleep-depriving medication and electrocuted by his handlers because of his human rights work. He says upon his release, Chinese officials told him to stay silent about the abuse he endured while in prison.
The South Korean government says that it will not accept China’s denial of abuse. A statement from the South Korean Foreign Ministry says it will ask Beijing to open an investigation into Kim’s allegations and also apologize for the torture.
But Kim says Seoul bears some responsibility for the situation, as well.
He says he is not satisfied with South Korea’s efforts. For 20 years South Korea has been silent about human rights issues with China in favor of economic ties. He says he hopes this incident can lead to a better more open and critical relationship.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry says it will interview 670 South Koreans currently detained in China to determine if they too have suffered abuse.