Activist arrested, accused of working for North

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Activist arrested, accused of working for North

A progressive South Korean activist was arrested and indicted yesterday on charges of conducting a series of protests calling for the demolition of a statue of U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur while working for North Korean agents.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office said that Han Choong-mok, 53, a co-leader of the leftist Korea Alliance for Progressive Movements, has been cooperating with North Korean agents since 2001, violating the National Security Law.

Prosecutors said Han was told by the North to carry out anti-American rallies calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, the demolition of the MacArthur statue in Incheon and the abolition of the National Security Law.

Another leader of the leftist group, the Rev. Han Sang-ryol, faces arrest and criminal charges for an unauthorized trip to North Korea and for his public speeches in the North denouncing the South Korean government.

The National Security Law prohibits South Koreans from visiting North Korea without prior government approval, and distributing publications sympathetic to the communist state is illegal under the law.

About 30,000 American troops are stationed in South Korea in order to deter potential threats from the North, and the two Koreas are still technically at war after the Korean War (1950-1953) ended with the signing of an armistice treaty by the UN Security Council in 1953.

MacArthur played a pivotal role in defending South Korea from the invasion by the North during the Korean War. The issue of demolishing the statue provoked violent protests in 2005. Conservatives wanted to preserve the statue, while progressives wanted it to be razed.


By Hong Hye-jin [enational@joongang.co.kr]

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