PRC Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu arrived in South Korea yesterday at the beginning of a three-day visit, the first by a head of Chinese public security since South Korea and China established diplomatic relations in 1992.
Meng is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Kim Sung Hwan, Minister of Justice Kwan Jae Jin and National Intelligence Service Director Won Se Hun during the visit. The two sides plan to discuss bilateral relations, immigration issues, criminal extraditions and consular affairs, before Meng returns to Beijing after the opening of a new consulate-general building on Jeju Island on Sunday.
There is the hope that his visit will also lead to the release of Kim Young Hwan and three other South Korean activists being detained in Dandong by the PRC Ministry of State Security, the Chinese intelligence service. South Korean officials have confirmed that the ongoing case of Kim’s detention will be raised, although they are cautious to avoid linking Meng’s visit with the release of the four men.
On the subject, one official commented yesterday, “We are continuing to discuss this issue with China and hope that it will be resolved in the right direction”.
However, past visits by Chinese senior officials have led to the arrival of ‘diplomatic gifts’, and therefore the hope remains strong that Meng will form the final piece in the jigsaw leading to Kim’s release.