Korea: First Falun Gong Practitioner to Gain Refugee Status

On November 15th, the High Court of Seoul ruled in favour of Chinese Falun Gong practitioner Jia Jun, who won refugee status. She is the first to gain refugee status in Korea after starting to practise Falun Gong there.

Ms. Jia came to Korea in 2001. She started practising Falun Gong in 2004. In 2009, she filed for refugee status. The Justice Ministry and the District Court rejected her application.

After viewing China's oppression of practitioners, the High Court believed that Ms. Jia "has a well-founded fear of being persecuted" as defined by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

"There are grounds for her to feel afraid of being persecuted by the Chinese government because she has been reporting on China's persecution of Falun Gong practitioners on NTDTV," the verdict reads.

On the 15th, the largest news agency in Korea, Yonhap News Agency, reported the case as headline news. Several mainstream Korean media, including KBS TV, MBC TV, YTN Radio, Korea Daily, Seoul Sinmun, and the Daum website, also covered the story.

The verdict reads: "The word refugee not only refers to a person who fled China because of threats but also someone who is likely to be persecuted by the government if she returns because of her active involvement in Falun Gong practices in Korea."

The High Court accepted the evidence that the applicant offered from Amnesty International, UN human rights reports, the Human Rights Law Foundation and other human rights organisations. The evidence showed the existence of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, in the form of arrests, imprisonment and torture.

Dr. Wu Shilie, spokesman of the Falun Dafa Association of Korea, said: "This is the first case where a Falun Gong practitioner has won refugee status in Asia. In Western countries, it is common, but before this case, Korean courts used to deny the existence of the persecution in China. I am glad that now the Korean court system is making progress and improving its effort to protect human rights."

Dr. Wu continued: "According to Chen Yonglin, the former Chinese diplomat in Australia, there are 1,000 Chinese spies sent by the Communist party to Australia, whose job it is to watch Falun Gong practitioners and collect information. So, there must also be spies in Korea watching practitioners. I hope that the Korean government will be more active and make more effort to protect Falun Gong practitioners."

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