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Media Coverage of Kim Young Hwan’s Detention and Torture in China

August 3, 2012

While not a complete list, here are some links and excerpts of media reports in English about Kim Young Hwan and the three other human rights activists who were released July 20 after having been detained in China for over three months. Starting with his press conference on July 25, Kim’s story was getting front page coverage in the Korean papers for a week (definitely not a normal occurrence for a North Korean human rights activist in South Korea). We will periodically update this list as needed.

S.Korean group to begin legal action against China`s torture
Dong-A Ilbo | 2012/08/06 05:58

S.Korean activist urges enactment of NK human rights law
Dong-A Ilbo | 2012/08/04 07:55

Human rights activist Kim Young-hwan urged Friday the passage of a law on North Korean human rights, adding he will continue activities in (South) Korea to promote North Korea human rights and support those who work abroad for the cause.

Attending a human rights forum at the National Assembly, Kim said, “The deportation of my colleagues and I from China has negatively affected human rights activities for North Korea, but I believe this incident will pave the way for a bigger movement over the long term.”

In response to a comment by Rep. Suh Sang-kee of the ruling Saenuri Party that opposition parties opposed the passage of the bill on the North Korea human rights law, Kim said, “North Korea might react hysterically in the first year, but I`m sure the law will prove to be useful over the long term.”

“I hope both the ruling and opposition parties will work together for the passage of the bill by compromising on and improving the bill.”

Kim described the electric torture that he suffered in China, saying, “Chinese investigators used electric batons, and the part where electric current flows flashed. The baton made a horrible, bug-burning noise like the one you hear when a mosquito or mayfly gets an electric shock by being caught at an electric net. The baton was visually and audibly threatening.”

He said his interrogators had to change huge batteries because the torture lasted for a long time.

The South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry was to have its consuls interview all 625 South Korean detainees in China, but with Kim’s testimony, the ministry announced Friday that it seeks consular access to all 1,600 detainees in 35 countries.

The ministry will ask for stringent measures, including punishment of those responsible and plans to prevent a recurrence.

China again denies alleged torture of S. Korean activist
Korea Herald | 2012/08/04 07:37

Seoul to push consular pact with China
Korea Herald | Shin Hyon-hee | 2012/08/02 20:46

Activist alleges his torture was directed by China’s central government
Hankyoreh | Ha Eo-young | 2012/08/02 16:14

Kim also said a Chinese state security official presented him during questioning with private posts he had made on a North Korean human rights web site, which appeared to have been obtained through hacking.

In the interview, Kim said that after discovering his identity, his interrogators seemed to look to the central government in Beijing for direction in handling his case.

“After [the state security department] learned who I was, a senior official came to the department and spent a long time trying to talk me out of refusing to make a statement, telling me ‘no one walks out that door without making a statement,’” he said.

“There was no bed, and we weren’t allowed to rest on the sofa,” he said. “Even the Agency for National Security Planning [the predecessor of the South Korean National Intelligence Service, or NIS] had a bed when I was being questioned there twenty years ago. Not only could I not get a proper sleep, but I couldn’t bathe for a full month.”

Kim also discussed the possibility of a connection with Seoul in mentioning his North Korean human rights campaign in China. When asked whether the NIS was involved, he said, “Not directly, no, but it would be in violation of South Korean law to engage in that kind of activity without notifying the government.”

Activist seeks to prove torture through medical checkup
The Korea Times (Yonhap) | 2012/08/02 15:34

Lee Kyu-ho, a 41-year-old Korean-Chinese, said he moved to Korea in 2010 after having worked as a Chinese security agent from 1995 to 2002, and witnessed similar violence by Chinese authorities at the time.

“In 1996, we took into custody a male North Korean defector who appeared to be in his late 30s or early 40s, and during the investigation, I kicked him with my heels and beat him with an electric rod,” Lee said in an interview with Yonhap.

“I was infuriated when I heard about the torture Chinese authorities used against Kim Young-hwan and decided to blow the whistle out of guilt about my past actions.”

SK Foreign Ministry Supports Kim
Daily NK | Cho Jong Ik 2012/08/02 13:42

Defector doesn’t bow to threats from the North: Pyongyang targets four activists by name, demands apology from Seoul
Joongang Ilbo | Lee Eun-joo | 2012/08/02

On Tuesday, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, a propaganda agency in Pyongyang, released a statement threatening to kill four South Korean activists and North Korean defectors, including Cho, for their involvement in “subversive and sabotaging acts against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

The other three targeted for punishment by the committee were: Kim Song-min, founder of Free North Korea Radio; Park Sang-hak, head of the Federation of the Movement for Free North Korea who sends anti-North Korea propaganda in giant balloons across the DMZ; and Kim Young-hwan, a South Korean activist who was recently released from detention in China while trying to help North Korean defectors.

Kim Young-hwan also said yesterday that he will not give up his activities.

“If my activities are intimidated by such threats, it would mean that I am becoming subject to North Korea’s plans,” he said. “I have no intention of doing that.”

The committee called Kim a “despicable renegade.”

“Wicked traitor Kim Young-hwan was recently arrested by the Chinese security authorities before being expelled to South Korea,” the committee said in an English-language statement.

“His crime once again confirmed how desperately the regime [referring to the South] is working to destroy and sabotage the DPRK.”

Apology for torture [Editorial]
Korea Herald | 2012/08/01 19:48

NK Human Rights Issues Come First (Q & A Interview)
Daily NK | Cho Jong Ik | 2012/08/01 15:03

Q) The first consul meeting happened on April 26th. Did you tell the consul about the torture?
A) In the meeting room, there were 4 Chinese agents in addition to one agent outside the room keeping watch over our meeting. The consul asked me if I had received any torture, and I replied, “How could I tell you that in a situation like this?”

Q) Were there any wounds on you at the first meeting?
A) There were some wounds from the beating, but they were unnoticeable since I was 3 meters away from the consul. There was a bruise from the beating under my eyes and a burn from the electric torture on my chest and back.

Q) The second consul meeting was on June 11th. Did you tell them about the torture?
A) There were 5 to 6 agents watching us, but this time I told the consul about the electric torture and sleep deprivation. I told them in 10 seconds, so the agents did not notice.

Q) Do you want to say anything more?
A) The torture I received was extreme. However, when compared with what occurs in North Korea, it is hard to say extreme. The Chinese human rights situation should be raised and criticized, but it should not lead to anti-Chinese rhetoric, comparison of the North Korean human rights situation to China’s, or an overshadowing of North Korea’s human rights issues.

Kim Not the Only One Tortured
Daily NK | Mok Yong Jae | 2012/08/01 14:21

Peter Jung, Director of Justice for North Korea, who was detained in Yanj prison from 2003 to 2004…added, “Having heard about the torture against Kim Young Hwan, the degree of abuse seems to be the same level as the treatment of North Korea defectors” he commented, “It was shocking to hear about.”

Electric Shocks Used for Confession
Daily NK | Mok Yong Jae | 2012/08/01 14:20

Seoul pushing Beijing on alleged torture of citizen: Beijing denies allegations, increasing chances of conflict between South Korea and China
Hankyoreh | Park Min-hee, Beijing correspondent and Park Byong-su, staff reporter | 2012/08/01 13:30

“Among people arrested by state security while working to aid North Korean defectors, we’ve seen people testify to being prevented from sleeping or beaten in ways that left no marks, but this is the first time anyone’s officially made unambiguous allegations of torture,” said a foreign relations source in Beijing.

N.Korea Threatens S.Korean Activists
Chosun Ilbo | 2012/08/01 09:47

China Denies Torturing S.Korean Activist
Chosun Ilbo | 2012/08/01 09:22

Pressed to respond to the claims by Kim Young-hwan, the Chinese Foreign Ministry faxed a terse statement saying, “China’s supervisory authorities abided by laws in this investigation. China guaranteed the rights of the detainee.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry opted to send a fax rather than post its response on its website, which is the customary practice. This has led to speculation that China is worried about damaging its image by making the statement readily accessible to the international media.

Activist speaks out on China’s brutal methods: Beijing denies Kim’s account of torture
Joongang Daily | Lee Eun-joo | 2012/08/01

According to Kim, after he was arrested, he asked the Chinese authorities for a lawyer or a meeting with the South Korean consul.

But as the Chinese authorities refused to accept his request, Kim decided not to answer the questions about the activities of South Korean activists in China.

S. Korea asks China to probe, apologize for activist`s torture
Dong-A Ilbo | 2012/08/01 06:10

He told The Dong-A Ilbo Monday of the details of his torture, saying, “I remember the face of my torturer exactly.” In a phone interview Tuesday, he added, “I will consult with my attorney on what responses I can take. I will request that a Chinese court press civil and criminal responsibilities.”

Choi Hong-jae, spokesman of a committee for Kim`s release, said, “If China fails to show a sincere attitude to our request for the truth, we will demand a confrontation between Kim and the Chinese investigator and opening of the related report,” hinting at demanding identification of the person who tortured Kim and why. China, however, denied abusing or torturing Kim, which will heighten diplomatic conflict between the two countries.

South Korea Repeats Call to Investigate Torture Claim
New York Times | Choe Sang-Hun | 2012/07/31

South Korea reiterated on Tuesday its demand that China investigate accusations by a South Korean activist that he was tortured by Chinese security officers, ratcheting up pressure in a case that has already caused tensions.

Following the assertions of the activist, Kim Young-hwan, the Foreign Ministry also said it would interview an estimated 620 South Koreans known to have been held in China on allegations of various crimes to see if any of them were tortured. In addition, a spokesman for the ministry said the government would “actively support” Mr. Kim’s plan to take his case to the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

The spokesman, Cho Tai-young, said the Chinese government, which denied torturing Mr. Kim, has not responded to South Korea’s repeated demands for a new investigation.

Some other activists who have been detained in China say they, too, were tortured and threatened with the possibility of being sent to North Korea during interrogations.

“They said even if they killed and buried me, no one would notice,” one of the activists, Choi Young-hoon, said during an interview on TV Chosun.

Mr. Choi, a South Korean human rights advocate who spent nearly four years in a Chinese prison starting in 2003 for trying to smuggle 80 North Korean refugees out of China by boat, said that Chinese inmates repeatedly beat him and that he was injected with something that made his legs “wooden” so he could not walk without help.

Another activist, Chung Peter, said on the same TV Chosun program that “sleep deprivation” and “letting you hear the sound of torture from the next room” were standard interrogation tactics when he was held for a year and a half starting in 2003 for helping North Korean refugees.

‘I smelled my flesh burn’
Korea Times | Kang Hyun-kyung | 2012/07/31 17:19

“I planned to address the human rights issue after my fellow activists, who are now sought by the Chinese authorities, return to Seoul. But I changed my mind after the media reported my suffering in detail,” Kim said.

“I didn’t want China’s human rights issue to overshadow my own agenda _ North Korean human rights. But I believe it will be inevitable for Chinese human rights practices to cause a stir for the time being,” he said.

China Denies Torture Against Kim
Daily NK | Mok Yong Jae | 2012/07/31 15:14

Today, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied the torture of Kim Young Hwan, researcher at Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (NKnet), stating, “Our investigation of Kim Young Hwan was in full accordance with the law and ensured his legal rights.”

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, “China’s National Security Agency investigated this case following appropriate legal procedure and therefore assured the rights of the South Koreans,” Adding, “Our assessment on the matter has already been sent to the South Korean government.”

S.Korean Activist Recounts Chinese Detention Ordeal
Chosun Ilbo | 2012/07/31 12:56

Chinese Torture of S.Korean Activists ‘Endemic’
Chosun Ilbo | 2012/07/30 09:12

Yoo Sang-joon, a North Korean defector whose story formed the basis for the 2008 South Korean film “Crossing,” was beaten by Chinese police for 24 hours while in Chinese custody in May last year. At the time, Chinese police warned him not to talk about the beating before they released him.

S. Korean activist considers petition over China’s torture
Korea Herald | 2012/07/29 15:36

“What we can do is file a petition with the International Criminal Court about China’s torture of Kim,” said a Korean activist who worked for a civilian committee calling for Kim’s release. “We also have to think about lawsuits in China.”

The official said Kim does not want diplomatic conflict between South Korea and China nor wants to put China in trouble in the international society over the matter, but is considering the petition as a way to stop torture in the Asian giant.

If Beijing apologizes and promises to take measures to prevent recurrences of such incidents, the committee will not appeal the case to the international court, the activist said.

Activist Kim Young-hwan reports cruel treatment in China: Chinese officials deny any wrongdoing; Seoul seeks reinvestigation
Hankyoreh | Park Byong-su | 2012/07/26 12:01

North Korea human rights activist Kim Young-hwan said on July 21 he was subjected to “acts of cruelty” during his questioning in China where he was detained for 114 days in China. Kim, 49, and three colleagues were released from China on July 20.

Kim made this claim during a press conference held at the Community Chest of Korea in central Seoul.

He said, “I did not engage in hostile activity against China. I could not understand why they treated me so cruelly.”

The South Korean government said it had sternly raised the issue with China, demanding a confirmation.

As for the specific acts of cruelty, he kept silent, saying, “If I get into specifics, I think the North Korean human rights issue will get buried beneath the Chinese human rights issue, and I understand the diplomatic authorities have already raised the issue.”

When asked whether the “acts of cruelty” involved physical pressure or things such as sleep deprivation, however, he answered, “I can say there were both.”

Kim said, “From two months prior to my release, China tenaciously demanded I admit I violated Chinese law and pledge not to talk about the acts of cruelty when I went back to Korea as conditions for my return home… But I refused to make such a pledge to the very end, and even when I was with Korean consulate officials in Shenyang on the day I was freed, I shouted to Chinese officials, ‘Officially explain your acts of cruelty and apologize.’”

Kim also said he gave Korean consulate officials a one-minute summary of the Chinese authorities’ cruel acts when he met with them the second time during his detention on June 11.

South Korean Says China Tortured Him in Custody
New York Times | Choe Sang-Hun | 2012/07/25

After interviewing Mr. Kim, the South Korean government asked Beijing on Monday to investigate his claim, officials at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said. The ministry may take further action after receiving a response from China, they said.

Mr. Kim said his group did not break Chinese laws. It collected information on human rights in the North and helped North Korean refugees living in China, he said.

The arrests of the four South Koreans on charges of “endangering national security” received wide public attention in South Korea because of Mr. Kim’s background. As a leader of the student movement that helped force the South Korean military strongman Chun Doo-hwan to make democratic reforms in the 1980s, he was tortured and imprisoned by his own government.

South Korean officials, as well as rights groups, had accused China of denying the four South Koreans proper access to consular and legal services while they were held there. Beijing had said earlier that it handled the case according to its domestic laws.

China’s ‘Cruel Treatment’ Breaks Intl. Law
Daily NK | Mok Yong Jae | 2012/07/25 17:19

Kim Young Hwan Press Conference Held (photos)
Daily NK | 2012/07/25 15:05

Kim Young Hwan Speaks About His Ordeal: Press Conference Photos
NKnet photos | 2012/07/25

Un militant sud-coréen des droits de l’homme libéré par la Chine
Le Monde | François Bougon | 2012/07/20 16:04

4 activists released from China
Korea Times | Chung Min-uck | 2012/07/21 00:54

Four South Korean activists including a highprofile human rightist Kim Young-hwan, 49, arrived in Seoul on Friday after being detained by the Chinese authorities for more than 100 days.

The former detainees arrived at Incheon International Airport around 7:28 p.m. escorted by Korean officials, returning from Shenyang on a Korean Air flight.

Kim Young Hwan, Yu Jae Gil, Kang Shin Sam, and Lee Sang Yong’s return at Incheon Airport
NKnet photos | 2012/07/20

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