DUP puts halt to meeting about Kim Young-hwan

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DUP puts halt to meeting about Kim Young-hwan

The National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee had planned to hold a meeting yesterday to discuss recent allegations involving South Korean activist Kim Young-hwan, who allegedly underwent brutal torture by Chinese security officials.

But the meeting was abruptly canceled the day before it was scheduled. Insiders blame the action on lawmakers from the opposition Democratic United Party.

In recent weeks, the story of Kim Young-hwan, who released from Chinese custody on July 20, has taken another turn following his revelations of torture under Chinese detention.

The 49-year-old activist said he was beaten, shocked with an electric prod and not allowed to sleep when he was held in China for 114 days after being arrested in March for endangering the country’s national security.

He is known to have helped North Korean defectors in China and promoted human rights of North Koreans.

Following the revelations of torture, the National Assembly scheduled a meeting to discuss measures to prevent such alleged unlawful incidents from happening overseas and to question Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung-hwan about how the ministry has dealt with the issue.

On Wednesday, North Korea even threatened four South Korean activists and North Korean defectors, including Kim Young-hwan, that they will be severely punished or killed for their activities against the North.

Officials of Foreign Ministry and lawmakers have noted that the National Assembly’s committee meeting would allow some countermeasures and also dig up what had really happened and how the Foreign Ministry dealt with the issue. The meeting, however, was canceled at the last minute.

Chung Moon-hun from the ruling Saenuri Party said, “The DUP had suggested that we hold the committee meeting after the Chinese government respond to the investigation request made by [Seoul’s] Foreign Ministry.”

“That’s why we weren’t able to agree on the meeting,” he said.

Shim Jae-kwon of the DUP said, “It’s not too late to hold a meeting [to adopt a resolution to form a truth commission on what happened to Kim Young-hwan] after we hear what the Chinese government has to say about this.”

“Right now, the Korean and Chinese governments are working on the matter,” Shim said.

On Wednesday, Ha Tae-kyung, an activist-turned lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party had introduced a resolution to form a commission to reveal the truth about the treatments Kim had received when he was held in China.

“It’s most likely that the liberals do not have a friendly attitude toward Kim, whose beliefs were once left-wing but shifted to the right,” said an official from the Foreign Ministry.

Another insider said, “Adopting the resolution would strongly pressure China and doing so would have also pressured the DUP,” as the liberals do not want issues on North Korea and China’s human rights to be politicized.

Meanwhile, Kim yesterday said he will prove his claims of torture through a medical checkup.

By Chang Se-jeong, Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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