Chinese officials break up S Korean lawmakers’ meet

Agence France Presse

Beijing, January 12:

A press conference held here by South Korean parliamentarians investigating China’s treatment of North Korean refugees was broken up today by people claiming to be from the Chinese foreign ministry. Kim Moon-Soo and three other members of the National Assembly of Korea were to brief the press about their trip to Jilin province near the North Korean border when a Chinese man claiming to be from the foreign ministry burst into the room insisting that journalists leave. “Everyone out, you can’t have this, everyone out,” the man shouted, while refusing to show his identification and threatening those who asked. When some 40 journalists refused to move and the parliamentarians carried on with the briefing, the electricity was cut and several plain clothed security agents entered and began pushing and shoving reporters out of the room.

“I am shocked, I have never seen anything like this before,” Kim said, as security agents ordered cameramen to turn out their television lights in the room at the Great Wall Sheraton Hotel. “This just tells us how the Korean government in China (the embassy) and the Chinese government perceive the situation (of North Korean refugees in China).” The foreign ministry said it was investigating the incident.“We have noted your question and we are presently trying to understand the situation,” said a spokesman when asked if the ministry was involved. “How can they do this to us, we are here lawfully and we have diplomatic passports,” said Park Seung-hwan, also a South Korean parliamentarian. “It is our jobs as legislators to try to protect the lives and human rights of our people, this includes those from North Korea.” The lawmakers said they did not always agree with the way the government of Roh Moo-Hyun was handling diplomatic relations with China.