Kim, Ministry Call Chinese On the Carpet

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Kim, Ministry Call Chinese On the Carpet

President Kim Dae-jung expressed regret Monday over the execution of a Korean citizen in China, saying the Vienna Convention on consular affairs requires states to notify other governments when their citizens are arrested or tried.

The Foreign Ministry called China's ambassador to Seoul, Li Bin, and the consul-general, Xu Zeyou, to lodge a protest over the lack of notice of the status of the Korean who was executed over a month ago.

Vice Minister Choi Sung-hong upbraided Mr. Li for China's failure to provide information on the unidentified man's case despite repeated requests from Seoul. While saying he supported China's crackdown on illegal drug trade, Mr. Choi said China should have notified the Korean government of legal actions taken against Korean citizens. Mr. Li said only that he would report Seoul's protest to his government.

The government said it plans to dispatch Choi Byung-hyo, a Foreign Ministry auditor, to China Tuesday to conduct an investigation at the Korean Embassy in Beijing and its consulate in Shenyang. The Foreign Ministry said Mr. Choi would look for any evidence that the embassy and the consulate neglected their duties to safeguard the legal rights of Korean citizens in other countries.

Among 18 Koreans now jailed in China on charges of drug trafficking, two have been sentenced to death but the executions were stayed. They are reportedly appealing for reductions of their sentences. Three other Koreans were reportedly arrested at the same time as the man who was executed Sept. 25; one 72-year-old man and one other man did not have valid Korean passports.

Authorities in China's Heilungjiang province where the man was executed notified Korean authorities of the execution only a month after it took place in an incident which Korean officials in Beijing said was not China's usual practice.

Officials in Liaoning province notified Seoul early this year of their decision to execute a Korean citizen accused of drug trafficking. Seoul managed to have that sentence reduced. The city of Beijing notifies the Korean Embassy at every step of the judicial process.

by Oh Young-hwan

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