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China 14 June 2002

A South Korean journalist beaten up by Chinese policemen

"The Chinese government’s scandalous repression of North Korean refugees is now spreading to South Korean diplomats and journalists attempting to help them or break the silence", said indignantly Robert Ménard, General Secretary of Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières). "We demand an inquiry and sanctions against the policemen who struck the South Korean journalist Lee Sang-Min in front of that country’s consulate in Beijing", wrote Robert Ménard in a letter sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tang Jiaxuan. "After Aids, Falungong, the workers strikes or the democratic dissidents, the Chinese government is choosing by force to prevent foreign journalists from informing the international public of the situation of the North Koreans who are desperately trying to flee the world’s worst dictatorship", concluded Mr Ménard.

image 140 x 120 (JPEG)                     According to information gathered by the organisation, Lee Sang-Min, the correspondent of the South Korean press agency Yonhap in Beijing, was beaten by Chinese policemen in front of the South Korean consulate in Beijing. The journalist was trying to cover the scuffle between the Chinese security forces and the consulate employees. The former, one of whom was drunk, had kidnapped a North Korean who, with his son, had just entered the diplomatic premises to seek asylum. Mr Won, a North Korean aged approximately fifty, had been pushed by force into a police sentry. The consulate employees tried to intervene but the policemen brutally attacked them. Three diplomats were injured. Lee Sang-Min who was filming the event was hit and injured on his right leg.

Furthermore, Chinese Public Television, which owns the monopoly for the satellite transmission of images from China, prevented South Korean televisions, particularly Korean Broadcasting Service (KBS), from broadcasting by satellite in South Korea the images of these incidents. While they were beginning to send, on 13 June, their images to Seoul, the connection was suddenly interrupted. MBC television again asked the Chinese state television services CCTV to send the images, affirming that it was not a matter of the incident. But after fifteen seconds of transmission the connection was again interrupted.

Following the incident in front of the consulate, South Korea summoned the Chinese ambassador in Seoul to protest against this violation of a diplomatic building and against the violence of the Chinese policemen.

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