The Chinese government has reacted irritably to calls from Seoul for an investigation and apology from Beijing for allegedly torturing a South Korean activist who was imprisoned for helping North Korean defectors there. Beijing apparently warned Seoul it would deal "by the book" with South Korean NGOs and religious groups operating in China.
According to a diplomatic source in Seoul, China said it would restrict the activities of South Korean groups helping North Korean defectors there after the South Korean government called for a probe into the alleged torture of Kim Young-hwan and raised international awareness of the issue.
Beijing has apparently started another investigation of the activists in China who aided Kim. Ethnic Koreans in China as well as some Chinese activists are said to have aided him.
Meanwhile, a group of Kim's supporters said they will halt their efforts to increase pressure on China, including plans to submit evidence of torture to an international organization.
"We have succeeded in raising awareness of this problem in China, South Korea and the international community through both local and foreign media," they said in a statement. "We believe that there will be no further imprisonment and torture of activists supporting North Koreans in China."
The supporters added that they believe their efforts helped improve the human rights situation in China to a certain degree.
It is possible that the supporters issued the statement because they fear that Beijing will act on its warning.