SEOUL—South Korean authorities are attempting to deport a married couple who are seeking asylum in the country. Should either of them be deported to China they may face detention, torture, and possibly death, since both are practitioners of the spiritual discipline of Falun Gong, which has been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party for more than a decade.
Officials from the Seoul immigration office forced their way into the couple’s home on Sept. 6 and arrested Mr. Jin; Mrs. Jin was able to break free and escaped. Mr. Jin was first taken to the Seoul immigration office before being moved to a protection center for migrants—he now faces imminent expulsion.
Mr. Jin, 26, had applied to the Korean Ministry of Justice for refugee status, but his application was rejected. A lawsuit he filed with the courts seeking refugee status was also rejected. He was then marked an illegal over-stayer facing deportation.
The Korean Ministry of Justice began accept refugee applications from Falun Gong practitioners in 2002. The cases were never approved; nor were they denied—until March 2006. Then, the South Korean Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae met with the Chinese Communist Party security czar, Zhou Yongkang.
Soon after the meeting, the Korean government denied the refugee applications of more than 20 Falun Gong practitioners and ordered them to leave the country. Local Falun Gong practitioners began to appeal, though apparently to little effect: 10 more practitioners from China were expelled in the last two years.
People familiar with the South Korean immigration office interviewed by The Epoch Times thought it was unusual for immigration officers to force their way into a house at night to arrest asylum-seekers.
After hearing of Mr. Jin’s arrest dozens of Korean Falun Gong practitioners gathered to protest outside the immigration office throughout the night.
At around 9 p.m., a Korean immigration official promised to release Mr. Jin at 10 a.m. the following morning. However, at 2 a.m. on Sept. 7, Mr. Jin was relocated to the Hwaseong Foreigner’s Protection Center, from where he may be imminently deported.
Under South Korean immigration control law, detainees of the immigration office are granted a seven-day period to appeal to the court. Then the court decides whether to send them to the Foreigner’s Protection Center.
But by being directly placed in the Foreigner’s Detention Center, Mr. Jin appears to face deportation without the right of appeal.
The Korean Falun Dafa Association objected to the way the Korean government handled Mr. Jin’s case: “The persecution of Falun Gong by the communist regime is ongoing. Deportation is inhumane,” Mr. Wu Shijie, the spokesperson for the Falun Dafa Association, told The Epoch Times.
He added: “Since July 2009, there have been 10 Falun Gong practitioners that were deported by the Korean government.”