SEOUL, Korea—The Supreme Court of Korea recently denied the Ministry of Justice’s (the ministry’s) appeal of a lower court’s ruling in favor of Chinese Falun Gong practitioner Mr. Shen’s application for asylum.
Both the Seoul High Court and eventually the Supreme Court of Korea affirmed the lower court’s decision, making this the first time a Chinese Falun Gong practitioner has gained asylum in Korea after an appeal.
Mr. Shen was introduced to Falun Dafa in China in 1995. When the Chinese communist regime initiated a nationwide persecution against Falun Gong practitioners in 1999, he lost his job. Mr. Shen then escaped to Korea in March 2006. In June 2010, he was arrested for being an illegal immigrant.
While detained at a foreigner’s protection detention center, Mr. Shen applied to the ministry for asylum. His case was rejected, so Mr. Shen appealed to the Seoul Administrative Court. The Court overturned the ministry’s decision and granted Mr. Shen asylum, to which the ministry appealed to the Seoul High Court.
In past years, the Chinese communist regime has repeatedly pressured the ministry to reject applications for asylum. For example, in May 2005, then Korean minister of justice Chun Jung Bae met with China’s security czar Zhou Yongkang who is considered a main force behind the persecution of Falun Gong. After Chun’s return, the ministry sent out rejection letters to 30 Chinese Falun Gong practitioners.
Thereafter, the ministry set strict standards for granting asylum to Falun Gong practitioners from China, believing that “only main coordinators of Falun Gong would face persecution from the state.”
However, the Supreme Court recognized the regime’s ongoing persecution of all Falun Gong practitioners. “In China, the persecution against Falun Gong practitioners is still ongoing. The government’s attitude towards the group has not changed at all,” says the ruling.
Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, was the most popular spiritual practice in the 1990s until the communist regime banned it in July 1999. Since then, more than 3,500 Falun Gong practitioners have reportedly died in China due to persecution. Millions have been detained for their belief in the practice, making Falun Gong practitioners the largest group of prisoners of conscious, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.
Head of Seoul Administrative Court Cho Byung-hyun told the Guk Min Daily in an article published on Sept. 30, 2011 that when he served as the head of the Busan City regional court, an official from the Chinese consulate in Busan mentioned Falun Gong practitioners’ asylum applications. “Korea cannot grant asylum status to Falun Gong practitioners. The Chinese government is trying to stop the Falun Gong group from gaining political influence. How can Korea give them refugee status,” said the Chinese official, according to Cho.
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