From December 2008, a lot of illegal aliens in South Korea, including a handful of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners, are caught and sent back one after another in the "Sweeping out illegal aliens campaign" launched by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Labor, and the Management Department for Small and Medium Enterprises of South Korea etc. Some media, as well as religious figures mainly from NGOs condemn the campaign, blaming that the South Korea government violates the International Human Rights Convention because the Chinese Falun Gong practitioners have been cruelly persecuted or suppressed by the Chinese government after these people return home.
Is it really the case? As a journalist who always tries to know the truth, I keep a close watch on this issue, and recently interviewed in China Mr. Wu (Han nationality, male, aged 45), a Chinese Falun Gong practitioner who was deported from South Korea.
"I was expelled for illegal stay. It has nothing to do with my practicing Falun Gong," Mr. Wu stated explicitly in the interview at Chengyang District of Qingdao, Shandong Province on October 13, 2009.
Mr. Wu was initially a worker at a South Korea garment enterprise in Qingdao. In May 2002, Wu went to South Korea, and worked as an industrial trainee at a South Korea Training Enterprise. But he took a French leave in January 2003, and became a migrant worker who did part-time jobs at construction sites around Gyeonggi Ansan City, China Town, etc. In August 2004, Wu began to practice Falun Gong for health reasons. And in March 2007 he was tracked down and arrested by South Korea's Ministry of Justice, and was put into Foreigner's Protective Detention House of the China Town, and then repatriated.
During this period, Wu asked for political asylum in South Korea on ground that he was a Falun Gong practitioner who would be persecuted by the Chinese government if returning home. But the South Korea authorities did not think Wu's statement tallied with the actual situation and rejected his appeal as the result. Not willing to give up, Wu appealed to South Korea courts for help. Again he was turned down as the courts ruled that "there was no substantial evidence to show that Mr. Wu will be persecuted if returning home." At last, Wu was repatriated back to the mainland on July 1, 2009.
"Now I am working at a local enterprise and living a peaceful life. Up to present, I have not suffered any persecution of any form, never been detained by the Chinese judicial authorities." Wu added, "South Korea is a democratic state ruled by law, and does not deport Falun Gong practitioners like me unconditionally." Wu also said his monthly salary was about RMB1,000 yuan, enough for a basic living. "My wife and I are in good terms."
But Mr. Wu's repatriation triggered demonstrations both in and outside South Korea. Falun Gong organizations in South Korea and people sympathizing with Mr. Wu took to the street, and held massive rallies around South Korea's Ministry of Justice and the Immigration Office, protesting. Falun Gong organizations in the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and many other countries and regions also staged demonstrations before South Korean embassies or consulates.
My interview with Mr. Wu was conducted in a personal and pragmatic manner. In another word, I did it out of my own will, not at any one's instruction. As far as Mr. Wu's case is concerned, my conclusion is that "the trees may prefer calm, but the wind will not subside." In my opinion, some people and organizations' reaction to this case is not only radical, but also oversensitive. The decision of South Korea's Ministry of Justice is absolutely not aimed at political persecution, and Mr. Wu's repatriation can not be described as "suppression" – since any sovereign state ruled by law would do the same to carry out its immigration laws and maintain public order.
Talking about feelings of being at home, Mr. Wu said with a smile, "Well, you know. I have returned home and settled down here for three months. Now I have a lighter heart and I work hard for my family."
After the interview, I really feel sorry about some media's attitude on the issue of Falun Gong because they always try to make a big farce of it regardless of the facts. Since libels and slanders on the Chinese government would do no good to Sino-Korea friendship, but do harm to multi-field exchanges between China and South Korea, I hope these media would steer a cautious course and tell people the truth on the issue of Falun Gong in the future.