Comments made by Kim Young Hwan in a press conference in Seoul yesterday have drawn the attention of the international media.
Kim, a North Korean human rights activist who was recently released after 114 days in Chinese detention, mentioned during a lengthy Q&A with overseas journalists that there are people within North Korea responding to the call for the country’s democratization.
“For the groups, individuals, or factions that are supporting or responding to our activities for North Korean democratization inside North Korea, I cannot elaborate about that,” Kim noted. “However, I can say that there are such people or groups and their strength is growing.”
Kim and three other South Korean activists were arrested in Dandong, China in late March by the Chinese Ministry of State Security. Kim apparently believes that this was the result of a confession from one such dissident who had been arrested inside North Korea.
According to Kim, he and the other activists were in China because they were “first investigating the information regarding North Korean human rights violations, second… supporting North Korean defectors, and third… helping those individuals or groups that were pursuing democratization of North Korea.”
Kim claims that he was subjected to torture during the early part of his time in detention, including electrocution by cattle prod and instances of prolonged sleep deprivation. As a result of what he has characterized as “cruel treatment”, which the Chinese government denies ever occurred, he is considering filing a lawsuit against the Chinese government, either personally or through an international organization.