Software tycoon Ahn Cheol-soo on Sunday visited protesters who are camped across the street from the Chinese Embassy in Seoul to call on Beijing to halt the repatriation of North Korean defectors. Conservative Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Park Sun-young and Lee Ae-ran, the first female North Korean defector to earn a PhD in South Korea, have gone on hunger strike at the site. Park was taken to hospital on Friday.
Ahn held Lee's hand and told her, "I have concerned about this issue for a quite while. I was saddened when I got your letter." Lee sent Ahn an e-mail on Friday asking him to visit the protest site where demonstrators were fighting to keep the North Korean defectors from repatriation from China.
"Human rights and the issue of how we treat the weak in society are important values that transcend ideologies and political systems," Ahn said. "I know you are suffering, but I hope that my visit can be of help." He stayed for just five minutes and left without responding to questions from reporters. When asked about his plans for the April general elections, Ahn said, "I did not come here today to give interviews."
Lee said she e-mailed Ahn "because I felt that a visit by someone like him who is admired by young Koreans would help our cause. I hope that through Ahn, young Koreans will pay more attention to their country and the plight of North Korean defectors."
Ahn has mostly refrained from commenting on politically sensitive issues such as Korea-U.S. free trade agreement. His visit to the protesters just two days after receiving Lee’s e-mail apparently reflects his view that the plight of North Korean defectors is a universal issue.