China executes Korean, takes six days to notify

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China executes Korean, takes six days to notify

A South Korean national was executed in China last week for trafficking drugs, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry announced Monday following a belated notification by Chinese authorities on the same day.

The man, only identified by the surname Kim, was executed on Dec. 30 after being apprehended in May 2010 for smuggling and transporting around 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of drugs.

Kim was the fourth South Korean to be executed in China last year for drug trafficking, which is considered a serious crime in the country. The other three died in August.

So far, six South Koreans have been executed in China since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992.

Chinese law stipulates that anyone found guilty of smuggling, trafficking or transporting more than 50 grams (1.8 ounces) of heroin, methamphetamines or other narcotic drugs can face life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said through a statement on Monday that it is “regretful” about the notice from Chinese judicial authorities, because it has on “several occasions requested China to refrain from carrying out the death sentence based on humanitarian and reciprocal principles.”

The ministry said it was informed on Dec. 16 that Kim would be executed. A ministry official who asked for anonymity said Chinese authorities repeatedly told South Korean officials to “wait for further notice” when they pleaded for clemency, but slapped them with the news Monday that they had already executed the prisoner six days earlier.

Chinese judicial authorities reportedly told the Foreign Affairs Ministry through the Seoul Embassy in Beijing to “make sure this doesn’t reoccur in the future.”

As to complaints why notification of the execution was so late, the anonymous ministry official said China told Seoul officials that “bureaucratic procedures were delayed due to New Year holidays.”

There are about 20 additional Korean nationals who have received death sentence suspensions in China for drug-related offenses or murder, the Foreign Ministry said.

Within the past five years, foreign nationals from other countries have also been executed in China for drug-related crimes. A group of 22 members of a Korean baseball club based in China were caught last week at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport for attempting to smuggle drugs to Australia, 14 of which are currently detained.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, YOO JI-HYE [selee@joongang.co.kr]




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