China executes fourth S. Korean drug offender since last year

January 5, 2015
An investigator displays confiscated drugs at an office of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Nov. 6. Police said they have arrested three people their 20s suspected of smuggling the drugs in from overseas and selling them near club districts in Seoul. (Yonhap)

An investigator displays confiscated drugs at an office of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency .(Yonhap)

SEOUL/BEIJING (Yonhap) — China executed a South Korean national last week for smuggling and trading drugs, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Monday, following Beijing’s execution of three South Korean drug dealers five months earlier.

Despite Seoul’s repeated pleas for clemency, the Chinese authorities on Tuesday executed the South Korean national, identified only by his surname Kim, who was sentenced to death for drug smuggling and transportation in China, the ministry said.

Kim was arrested in China in May 2010 on charges of smuggling some 5 kilograms of drugs into the country and trafficking them.

A Chinese district court sentenced him to death in April 2012 and an appellate court upheld the ruling eight months later. China’s highest court also confirmed the sentence.

Seoul’s foreign ministry expressed regret over China’s execution of the South Korean national despite its repeated calls for clemency.

“The Korean government regrets that the execution took place although Seoul had requested Beijing to refrain from handing carrying it out on humanitarian grounds and the principle of reciprocity,” the foreign ministry said. “We plan to beef up cooperation with related countries to prevent Korean nationals from being involved in drug-related crime.”

Separately, the Korean government said it has protested to China over its delayed notification of the execution to Seoul.

When asked why China delayed the notification, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a regular press briefing on Monday that, “I believe that relevant authorities in China have handled this case in accordance with the law.”

“We provided conveniences and appropriate consular services to the South Korean side,” Hua said.

Kim is the fourth South Korean that China has executed for drug offenses since last year. In early August, three South Korean nationals were executed in China for smuggling and trading drugs.

In 2001, China executed a South Korean drug dealer, identified only by his surname Shin.

Smuggling, producing or trafficking more than one kilogram of opium or 50 grams of heroin or methamphetamine is subject to capital punishment in China.

A foreign ministry official said the Chinese government on Dec. 16 notified South Korea of its decision to execute Kim.

Seoul had repeatedly asked for a stay of execution on humanitarian grounds, but Beijing rejected the plea, the official said.

He said the government will come up with measures to prevent South Koreans from committing drug offenses in China, which are mainly committed in the country’s three northeastern provinces, including limits on drug offenders’ overseas travel.