Two Chinese convicts are in death row in Korea, it emerged Thursday after China executed three Koreans for drug smuggling offences. But Korea has not carried out the death penalty since 1997, so the two are unlikely to be executed.
According to the Justice Ministry on Thursday, 58 convicts are on death row in Korea, all violent criminals. They include two Chinese nationals, one of Korean descent, identified as Park Kyung-soo (39) and Wang Liwei (38).
Park was convicted in 2000 of raping and murdering a mother and daughter and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.
Wang, who came to Korea as an industrial trainee, hit two women over the heads with a hammer and stone as they walked down a street and injured eight others. He was given the death sentence in 2001.
The last time Korea carried out capital punishment was in December 1997, when 23 convicted felons were put to death.
A Supreme Court official said China's execution of the three Korean men on Wednesday and Thursday could raise eyebrows in the modern world. "In most countries, the principle of territorial privilege is applied to criminal cases and the level of punishment is meted out according to domestic laws, but executing foreign drug smugglers without clemency demonstrates a lack of respect for life."
China has drawn international criticism for its Draconian application of the death penalty. Amnesty International said in a report in April that 778 criminals were executed in 22 countries last year, but those figures did not include the thousands who were executed in China.
Assessing exact numbers is difficult since the Chinese government does not reveal figures.
As of last year, 58 countries around the world retained the death penalty, including China, Japan and the U.S.
A total of 105 countries, including France, Germany, Switzerland and the U.K. have abolished the death penalty completely.
Korea falls into an in-between category that in theory maintain the death penalty but have not carried it out for the last 10 years. Thirty-five countries fall into that category.