Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai Young, made an official statement Tuesday on behalf of the South Korean government in support of Kim Young Hwan, activist and researcher, should he petition the United Nations to look into his alleged torture at the hands of Chinese security authorities. Kim’s accusations include sleep deprivation, beatings and electrocution by cattle prod.
Minster Cho stated, "The government will actively support Kim Young Hwan should he take his case to the United Nations or other multilateral bodies, by using a petition of an international human rights mechanism."
Cho presented the Seoul’s position on the matter as quite insistent, asserting, "The Korean government will continue to raise this issue with the Chinese."
Aggressive action against China in defense of detained and allegedly abused South Korean citizens is a turnaround from the South Korean government’s past behavior. Before Kim Young Hwan’s case, the government failed to protest mistreatment of their citizens imprisoned in China. The reason for this, according to some experts, can be attributed to South Korea’s “quiet diplomacy” when it comes to foreign relations with China.
Therefore, it may be interesting to consider that the strength of government’s pledge in solidarity with Kim Young Hwan may very well be tested. In an interview with Chosun Ilbo on Tuesday, Kim was quoted asserting, "I will launch civil suits against China's central government or state security agency, or the security department of Dandong," Dandong being the city in which he was detained. His resolve to get recognition for his mistreatment was clear in the interview; seeking United Nations involvement would be a logical step to take in order to obtain justice.
Cho claimed the government is pushing Beijing to vigorously look into Kim Young Hwan’s allegations, dismissing the findings of the initial investigation the Chinese government claimed to have held.
Beyond Kim’s case, Cho stated that the Seoul intends to request Chinese government to permit South Korean officials to conduct consular interviews with the 620 or so South Koreans currently being detained in China, to ascertain whether or not their rights are being violated.
China has rejected the allegations, and has claimed its own internal investigation revealed no unlawful mistreatment of any prisoners took place.