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"We Caught North Korean Defectors and South Koreans, and Beat Them with Electric Bats"
By Lee Seo-hwa, Kim Kyeong-hak
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Korean-Chinese Lee Gyu-ho (41) entered a two-year police academy in Shenyang, China in 1993. He was athletic, but what's more, he wanted to thrust aside his woes as an ethnic Korean living in China. He wanted to become a policeman with authority and help fellow ethnic Koreans like himself.

However, when Lee began working at the Xita precinct in Hepingqu, Shenyang in August 1995, he realized how different reality was from what he had studied. Torture and battery, which were nowhere to be found in his police academy textbooks, were common practice. Lee told himself that it was probably just a part of the job, and soon became blunt to the violence.

It was about 1996. Lee faced a man who was suspected to be a North Korean defector during the "War against Crime" crackdown period, which came around three times a year. The man seemed to be in his late thirties lighting charcoal at a bulgogi restaurant.

On July 25 at the Community Chest of Korea in Jung-gu, Seoul, Kim Young-hwan (center) held a press conference after his release. Kim was arrested in March on charges of harming national security in China and was released after 114 days. /Kim Yeong-min



The man could not answer Lee's questions and had no ID, so Lee brought him into the station. Lee started interrogating him with three or four of his colleagues, but the man was silent. Lee and his partners beat the man with an electric bat about 50~60cm long and kicked him with their heels for about 4 hours.

The man, unable to bear the beatings, pleaded in Korean, "Don't hit me," "Please, just don't send me to North Korea," "Don't kill me."

Lee reported to the chief that the man was a defector from North Korea, and the man was deported against his will back to North Korea. Lee held a press conference and blew the whistle on August 1 in front of Okin Church across from the Chinese Embassy in Hyoja-dong, Seoul.

During the press conference, Lee unveiled, "The Chinese Public Security often uses torture to add to their records. When they touch a person's skin from head to toe with an electric bat flashing with electric currents, the man can only pass out."

On July 25 at the Community Chest of Korea in Jung-gu, Seoul, Kim Young-hwan (center) held a press conference after his release. Kim was arrested in March on charges of harming national security in China and was released after 114 days. /Kim Yeong-min



Lee revealed, "Even a precinct, the lowest ranking police organization, has an electric bat, a torture device. It was not only the North Korean defectors. We would put people who made a mistake after a few drinks including South Koreans into a steel cell and kick them."

He added, "In places where they deal with big cases or serious crimes, I heard they had a separate interrogation room where they openly tortured people with electricity and water."
He explained, "We distinguished who to torture. We would ask where they were from.

If they said they were from a poor region like Heilongjiang, we would torture them first and then make a case later, but if they said they were from a family in Shenyang, we would carefully contemplate torture."

Lee came to Korea in 2010 to make a living after he was fired from the police in 2002 and divorced his wife in 2005. Lee said, "I heard the news on the hunger strike staged by Park Sun Young, previously a lawmaker of the Liberty Forward Party, in February, but since I was a Chinese citizen and would someday have to return to China, I could not build up the courage to blow the whistle."

Lee announced, "I am here today because I was greatly enraged by the ordeal of Kim Young-hwan, who was detained and released in China. I sincerely ask the forgiveness of the North Korean defector who I had caught in the past."

Copyright The Kyunghyang Shinmun. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution without permission absolutely prohibited.

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