Chinese Torture of S.Korean Activists 'Endemic'

Several South Korean activists have been arrested and tortured by Chinese police, groups working to help North Korean defectors alleged Friday. One South Korean pastor who organized underground churches in North Korea allegedly suffered waterboarding and electrical torture when he was arrested in China in 1991, they said.

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.

An activist helping North Koreans escape said, "To avoid diplomatic friction, Chinese police sometimes incite Chinese prison inmates to beat the South Korean activists."

But whenever South Korean victims lodge protests after their release, Chinese authorities deny the allegations.

"South Korean activists helping North Koreans have been tortured by Chinese police for 20 years," said Do Hee-yoon of the Seoul-based Citizens' Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees. "They haven't attracted attention so far just because they aren't as famous as Kim Young-hwan."

Kim was released last week after 114 days in Chinese detention and has made unspecified allegations of ill-treatment by the Chinese.

Currently, 619 South Koreans are being held across China.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 30, 2012 09:12 KST