South Korea: More than 750 conscientious objectors in prison

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After the rulings of the Korean Supreme Court and Constitutional court earlier this year, the Korean courts are now picking up on trials against conscientious objectors. More than 750 conscientious objectors are in prison on Prisoners for Peace Day. Besides Jehovah's Witnesses and 7th Day Adventists, also the number of pacifist conscientious objectors is on the rise. On 15 November, seven pacifist COs were in prison.


O Taeyang (30), a pacifist and buddhist. He declared his conscientious objection publicly on 17 December 2001. On 7 February 2002, a court decided that he would be not imprisoned while awaiting trial - this was the first time in any conscientious objection case in South Korea. On 19 June 2002 his trial was adjourned until after the decision of the Constitutional Court, but the case was reopened on 17 May 2004. On 30 August 2004 he was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months imprisonment, and arrested in court. Although he is appealing against the sentence, he is presently in detention:

Address: (138-600) #1725, Oh Taeyang, Seongdong detention center, P.O. box 177, Songpa Post Office, Songpa-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Im Chiyun (26), a pacifist. He declared his conscientious objection publicly on 30 July 2002. He was detained on 11 September 2002, but released on bail a few weeks later, in October 2002. On 26 August 2004 his case was reopened (after having been adjourned to wait for the decisions of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts), and he was sentenced to 1 1/2 years imprisonment on 7 September 2004. He too was arrested in court, and is presently in detention, while he awaits the outcome of his appeal.

Address: (617-737) #1588 Lim Chiyun, Busan Detention Center, P.O. box 58, Sasang Post Office, Busan, Republic of Korea.


Na Donghyeok (28), a pacifist and activist with World Without War, a group of conscientious objectors and their supporters. He declared his conscientious objection publicly on 12 September 2002, and was sentenced on 10 December 2002 to 1 1/2 years imprisonment. On 14 January 2003, he was released on bail by the court of appeal. On 31 August 2004, the original sentence of 1 1/2 years was confirmed by the Court of Appeal, following the decisions of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts. He is now appealing to the Supreme Court, but is held in detention awaiting his appeal. A declaration of Na Donghyeok was published in last years Prisoners for Peace edition of The Broken Rifle.

Address: (435-600) #2360 Na Donghyeok, Seoul Detention Center, P.O. box 20, Kunpo Post Office, Kunpo, Kyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea.


Im Seonghwan (29), a pacifist and publisher of the progressive magazine 'Outsider'.

He declared his conscientious objection publicly on 1 July 2003, and was not detained during his trial. On 8 September 2004, he was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in prison, and arrested in court. He is appealing against the sentence, but presently held in detention.

Address: (153-600) #2576 Lim Seonghwan, Yeongdeungpo Detention Center, P.O. box 164, Keumcheon Post Office, Seoul, Republic of Korea


Im Taehun (30), pacifist, chair of the LGBT group of Amnesty International's South Korean section.

Publicly declared his conscientious objection to military service on 22 July 2003. He was detained on 26 February 2004, and was sentenced to 1 1/2 years imprisonment on 29 April 2004. On 9 September 2004, the appeal court also sentenced him to 1 1/2 years in prison. He is currently appealing to the Supreme Court, although chances are not very high.

Address: (435-050) #3318 Im Taehun, Seoul Detention Center, P.O. box 20, Kunpo Post Office, Kunpo, Kyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea


Kang Cheolmin (24), conscientious objector to the deployment of Korean troops in Iraq.

Kang Cheolmin entered the army on 7 July 2003. On 21 November 2003, the last day of his military leave, he held a press conference and declared his conscientious objection in protest against the deployment of Korean troops in Iraq. On the same day he began a sit-in in the National Council of Churches in Seoul.

On 28 November 2003, after a second press conference, and during a march to the residence of the President of Korea, he was arrested. A court martial sentenced him to 2 years imprisonment on 27 December 2003. On 23 March 2004, the High Military Court reduced his sentence to 1 1/2 years in prison. He went on hunger strike for 7 days on 22 June 2004, to protest against the dispatch of Korean troops to Iraq.

Address: (630-705_ #551 Kang Cheolmin, Masan Prison, P.O. box 7, Masan Post Office, Masan, Republic of Korea


Wonpyo (27), pacifist and member of the Socialist Party.

He publicly declared his conscientious objection on 23 August 2004. He is presently in detention at the Daejeon prison while his case is being investigated.

Source: Email Jungmin Choi, Korea Solidarity for Conscientious Objection

A full list of South Korean prisoners is available at http://wri-irg.org/pubs/pfp04-koreans-en.htm

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