Christian Solidarity Alerts EU to NK Prisoner

Contacts EU and UK Leaders

Below is the text of an appeal sent by Christian Solidarity Worldwide to EU and UK leaders on behalf of Mr. Park Yong-chol. 



15th APRIL 2004

We would be very grateful if you would intervene on behalf of Mr Park Yong-chol (alias Jo Yong-su) a North Korean who was arrested and sentenced in China and now faces repatriation and likely execution.

Mr Park was arrested on 18th January 2003 in relation to the attempted escape of North Korean refugees by boat. On 22nd May 2003 a court in Yantai in Shantung Province sentenced him and four others to terms of imprisonment. Mr Park received a sentence of two years imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 RMB.

It appears that Mr Park may now be released on 1st May. He has expressed his absolute terror at the approach of his release date as he believes he will be repatriated to North Korea, which he describes as a death sentence. Indeed, accounts of the treatment of those repatriated would support his assessment. Those returned with much lesser offences have been subject to horrific torture and execution.

Mr Park is currently in Wei Fang Prison, approximately five hours drive from Yantai airport.

His co-defendant Mr Choi Yong-hun was also transferred to this prison in mid January 2004. He is a South Korean and has been sentenced to five years. His case has received some attention in South Korea and he has been able to send letters to his family. In a recent letter to his wife he indicated Mr Park’s possible release on 1st May and asked for intervention on his behalf. He states that the thought of Mr Park’s repatriation torments him so badly that he himself sometimes contemplates suicide.

In a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Ruud Lubbers, and the humanitarian organisation Life Funds For North Korean Refugees, whom Mr Choi had appealed for help to, stated: ‘[Mr Park’s] repatriation to North Korea is already arranged, so his release from the Chinese prison means a sure death sentence’.

We would be most grateful for your intervention in this case to save the life of Mr Park.

International Advocate  

Christian Solidarity Worldwide