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China 28 August 2003

Two South Korean reporters expelled after being held for 20 days

The Chinese authorities expelled South Korean reporters Kim Seung-jin and Geum Myeong-soek on 28 August after holding them for 20 days. Two activists - one of them a Japanese scholar - who had tried to smuggle a group of North Korean refugees out of China were also expelled and put on a plane to Japan. Officials in Shanghai said they were expelled because they posed a "major security threat." No information was available about the fate of the nine North Koreans (including two minors) who were also arrested.


Two South Korean reporters detained in Shanghai

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) wrote today to Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing to request the release of South Korean journalists Kim Seung-jin and Geum Myeong-soek, detained since 8 August in Shanghai for covering the activities of a Japanese group that came to help North Korean refugees in China.

Their arrests brings to three the number of South Korean journalists currently detained for reporting the Chinese authorities’ inhumane treatment of North Korean refugees.

In its letter, Reporters Without Borders urged the Chinese government to stop hounding journalists for doing their duty to inform international public opinion about the plight of North Korean refugees trying to flee their country via China.

Kim and Geum were arrested by Shanghai police as they covered an attempt to smuggle a group of refugees out of the country via the Japanese school in Shanghai. The operation was organised by a Japanese NGO, the Society to Help Returnees to North Korea (HRNK), whose director, Fumiaka Yamada, has also been detained along with a South Korean activist, Kim Kijyu, and nine North Koreans (including two children).

The Chinese authorities have confirmed the arrests and have allowed representatives of the Japanese and South Korean consulates in Shanghai to visit the detainees.

Reporters Without Borders also reiterated its call for the release of photographer Jae-Hyun Seok, a regular contributor to the New York Times, who was sentenced to two years in prison on 22 May for alleged "trafficking in human beings." He was arrested in January for covering a South Korean group’s attempts to help North Korean refugees.

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