China on Wednesday executed two South Koreans convicted of smuggling drugs. It was the first execution of South Koreans in China in 10 years.
The two men, identified by their surnames Kim (52) and Baek (44), were arrested in 2011 for smuggling 15 kg of methamphetamines into China from North Korea and selling them in South Korea and other countries, according to the Foreign Ministry here.
They were sentenced to death in the Chinese city of Jilin in 2012 and appealed to a higher court. But their sentence was upheld by the high court last year and later by the Supreme People's Court.
Seoul had asked Beijing to grant them a stay of execution for humanitarian reasons. But Beijing on July 28 told Seoul the execution will go ahead.
Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il said the government here is "very sorry" that Korean nationals were executed.
The last time China executed a South Korean was in 2004. Identified as Shin (64), he was convicted of murdering his girlfriend.
Another South Korean identified as Chang (55) is reportedly awaiting execution for drug smuggling after his sentence was upheld by a high court in Shandong Province.
China has particularly harsh penalties for drug-related offences, perhaps due to painful memories of the Opium Wars.