Monday, December 25, 2006

Korean aid worker Choi Yong-hun released

South Korean aid worker Choi Yong-hun has just been released after serving nearly four years in a Chinese jail for trying to help North Koreans defect.

There were emotional scenes at Seoul airport as Choi was reunited with his wife and two daughters, while Tim Peters of Helping Hands Korea looked on.

Choi's family had to wait 90 minutes before he finally came through the Arrivals gate at Seoul Airport because he was immediately detained by the South Korean authorities for questioning.

Tim Peters says: 'When he finally did come out, he was rejoicing in the Lord as he embraced his family and fellow activists. He told of torture at the hands of prison guards and fellow prisoners, mainly due to his Christian faith.'

Choi was arrested in 2003 for his part in the well publicised Yantai boat incident in which a group of 30 North Koreans tried to escape from China to South Korea by sea. One of his four fellow defendants, a North Korean called Park Yong-chol, was repatriated to his homeland after serving two years in a Chinese jail. Park's fate remains unknown.

China insists on dealing harshly with North Korean defectors and those who try to help them, often repatriating refugees to their homeland.

[Release International]

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