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S. Korea Protests Incident at Its Consulate in Beijing

June 14, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

SEOUL — South Korea called in China's ambassador today to protest an incident in which Chinese police entered the South Korean Consulate compound in Beijing and grabbed a North Korean would-be asylum seeker, the Foreign Ministry said.

Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hang Kyung held talks with the ambassador, Li Bin, at the ministry's offices in the central government complex in Seoul, the South Korean capital.

Chinese police forced their way into the consulate in Beijing on Thursday to retrieve a North Korean man seeking asylum. Scuffles broke out between the police and South Korean diplomats, and at least one diplomat was hurt. The detained man's son managed to stay inside the building, joining 17 other North Koreans.

It was not immediately clear what Kim told Li, but the Foreign Ministry issued a carefully worded statement late Thursday saying the Chinese police had violated diplomatic rules by entering the consulate and should hand back the detained man.

Thursday's incident, barely a month after Beijing settled a similar row with Japan, came amid tougher measures by the Chinese government to stem a wave of North Korean asylum seekers entering foreign missions in China.

Dozens of North Koreans fleeing famine and repression have sought refuge at missions in China.

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