Falun Gong Practitioners Gain Political Asylum Status in South Korea for the First Time (Photo)
(Clearwisdom.net) On January 16, 2008, two Chinese Falun Gong practitioners won their cases applying for political asylum in Korea. Their lawyer, Mr. Kim Namjun, revealed that this was the first time in Asia that Falun Gong practitioners will be allowed asylum status. The next day, more than twenty media, including the three biggest TV stations, KBS (Korea Broadcasting Station), MBC, SBS, Yonhap News agency, and major newspapers (Dong-A Daily, Segye Daily, Kyunghyang Newspaper, Maeily Business Newspaper, Korean Daily, etc.) reported the news. This was the first time that the persecution of Falun Gong in China was widely featured as headline news in Korea.
Lawyer Mr. Kim Namjun, defender for Falun Gong practitioners
On the morning of January 16, 2008, in the Seoul Administrative Court, the judge formally decided that two out of the 32 Falun Gong practitioners that applied for asylum in Korea in May 2004 would receive asylum.
This decision reflected that the Korean Justice system will maintain its independence, based on facts and law, and recognize that the persecution of Falun Gong in China is still ongoing and illegal. Before this incident, people tended to believe that it was very hard to receive asylum in South Korea. Due to the close distance to China, South Korea is sometimes easily manipulated by China.
Many Asian countries know the facts about Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted in China, but they fail to embrace justice in their courts. In order to avoid pressure from the Chinese Communist Party, some countries try to force Falun Gong practitioners to withdraw their lawsuits against Communist officials.
Paving the Way for Political Asylum Status for Falun Gong P
Lawyer Mr. Kin Namjun said that he had not heard a lot about the persecution in China, and very few media seem to report on the issue. This case made a deep impression on him. His assistant, Mr. Kim Kook-Hwan, said that due to the severeness of the persecution, it is very difficult to obtain evidence. Affidavits written in China are hard to mail out because they are blocked in many ways, putting witnesses' lives in danger. There are watchful eyes everywhere.
Mr. Kim Namjun believes, "All remaining plaintiffs should be given asylum as well." It was so hard to collect human rights persecution evidence in China, but they managed to acquire it. Only two out of the 32 plaintiffs received asylum, to which he said, "What a waste."
Nonetheless, Mr. Kim said, "I think, no matter what, these two people created a beginning for more asylum cases in the future. [Even though there is pressure,] Korea is a 'checks and balances' country. The Judicial Branch made a good decision this time."
Mr. Kim believes that the path for Falun Gong practitioners to gain political asylum status in Korea is now clear. The Executive Branch recognizes the persecution in China, and will rule on all asylum cases based on facts. The Court completed a key step, and established a major legal precedent for future cases.
Chairman of the Korean Falun Dafa Association, Mr. Kwon Hong-Dae, said, "The Chinese Communist Party uses a quarter of China's federal funds to persecute Falun Gong, and have committed the crime of selling practitioners' organs after harvesting them live. The majority of Korean media have been silent about these crimes. This Administrative Court decision is a good turning point for Korea step forward into advanced human rights territory."
Result is Bittersweet
One of the Falun Gong practitioners who received asylum expressed gratitude to the Court. "It recognized that Falun Gong is being persecuted in China, the facts of the persecution, and allowed us to live here freely."
She also said, "I have mixed feelings today." Only two out of the 32 received asylum, the remaining 30 may have to go back to China. "As long as you practice Falun Gong in China, you can be persecuted." She said that the Korean Court still does not know the cruelty and common degree of the persecution, and the results it has created. The plaintiffs hope that the Korean Court will further investigate the persecution facts in China, and she believes that the Korean Court will make a more just decision in the future.
The other practitioner who received asylum said, "The CCP's dictatorship ignores human rights, but the Korean Court can make a decision with courage based on human rights." They expressed deep gratitude to the Korean Court and all the Korean people who cared about and helped them.
He said that he began cultivating Falun Gong in 1994 and was detained twice after the persecution began. He had been closely watched and mistreated after his release, so he was forced to come to Korea in 2000. When his first son got married, he could not go back China. His 90 year-old mother is not very strong, and calls out his name every day. His legal resident registration was taken away by the CCP government, but he still did not have legal residency in Korea. Now he can finally feel settled.
The Civil Sixth Branch Chief Judge of the Seoul Administrative Court, Mr. Cheon, Sung-Soo revealed, "These practitioners often join in on the activities of Falun Gong practitioners in Korea and play important roles, so they are watched by the Chinese government already so they can be subject to persecution upon returning China. This concern is very rational."
A practitioner who did not receive asylum this time said that neither the judge nor the Court can deny the persecution in China. Despite this, still there are thirty practitioners who did not receive asylum, and some of these practitioners will be beaten, arrested, and detained in China.
The Falun Dafa Association of Korea chairman Mr. Kwon Hong-Dae said, "It is hard to understand why the other thirty practitioners did not obtain asylum. The entire body of Falun Dafa practitioners in Korea will try our best to help these plaintiffs receive their asylum... If they return to China, it is obvious their lives will be in danger, so we will continue appealing to higher courts."
Around one hundred Falun Gong practitioners have applied for political asylum
in Korea since 2002.
Since May 2005, the Korean Law Department denied more than 30 of these applications, citing "insufficient evidence of persecution." The practitioners immediately launched appeals.
Denials resumed in March 2006, so in April of that year, practitioners filed a lawsuit against the Korean Minister of Justice.
January 17, 2008