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UPDATE1: S. Korean activist 'tortured with cattle prod' in China: report.

SEOUL, July 27 Kyodo


South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung Hwan said Friday he will soon demand China conduct a "thorough reinvestigation" into claims a prominent South Korean activist was tortured by Chinese security agents during his nearly four-month-long detention, Yonhap News Agency reported.

"We will press (the Chinese government) for a thorough and strict reinvestigation because our top priority is to protect our people," the foreign minister was quoted as telling lawmakers during a parliamentary meeting.

His ministry has been in the hot seat for failing to take proper diplomatic actions against China over the alleged abuse of the activist, Kim Young Hwan, who was arrested in northeastern China on March 29 and returned home last week, especially in light of a fresh allegation that he was tortured with electric shocks while in detention.

Earlier Friday, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted a close confident of the 49-year-old activist as saying he apparently "suffered various forms of torture by Chinese authorities, including torture with a cattle prod" for refusing to divulge information during his 114 days in detention.

Kim Young Hwan and three other activists were arrested for apparently helping North Korean defectors in China.

Chinese officers allegedly played loud music to drown out his screams of pain, the newspaper report said.

The activist told reporters Wednesday that he suffered brutal treatment including "physical restraint and sleep deprivation" during his first month of his detention, but he did not elaborate.

He was reportedly forced to do hard labor for 13 hours a day during the latter two months of his detention.

The South Korean foreign minister said Seoul had asked already Beijing to investigate the activist's accusations of mistreatment before the torture allegations emerged and is waiting for a response.

The foreign ministry has come under fire for failing to take firm diplomatic actions after Kim alleged the abuse during a consular interview on June 11.

On Thursday, Foreign ministry spokeswoman Han Hye Jin told reporters that if the claims prove to be true, "We will demand China apologize and take stern action to prevent such an incident from happening again."

Kim, now a senior researcher for the Seoul-based civic group Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, was a former South Korean proponent of North Korea's guiding "juche" philosophy of self-reliance.

He later became disillusioned with North Korean ideology and campaigned against violations of human rights in the North.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jul 30, 2012
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