Two Korean-American peace activists have been denied entry into South Korea because their purpose of visit was to protest the S. Korean government’s decision to deploy a U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense unit in Seongju, South Korea.
The Ministry of Justice of S. Korea said on July 26, “Two Korean Americans, Lee Hyun-chong and Rhee Joanne, arrived at Incheon International Airport on July 25. We denied their entry into the country pursuant to Article 11 of the Immigration Control Act.”
Article 11 (Prohibition, etc. of Entry) of the Immigration Control Act stipulates that the Minister of Justice may prohibit the entry of a foreigner who is deemed likely to commit any act detrimental to national interests of the Republic of Korea or public safety.
The two, representatives of the US-based Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, flew in to attend the Korea Peace Forum, scheduled to be held on August 15.
Along with Veterans For Peace, the two were supposed to issue a statement saying “We oppose the South Korea government’s decision to deploy a U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense unit in Seongju, South Korea” at the Korea Peace Forum.
The Kyunghyang Shinmun, a local newspaper, reported, “The Ministry’s decision is raising questions of whether the denial of entry was politically motivated.”
The Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea issued a statement on South Korea’s deportation of its members. And American journalist Tim Shorrock, who covered the 1980s pro-democracy protests in Gwangju and helped found the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, posted the statement on social media.
The statement says, “The two activist had travelled to South Korea numerous times in the past with no problems, They have never broken any laws in South Korea and has never been denied entry nor deported in the past. This is an act of political repression.”
“Many South Koreans oppose the deployment of THAAD, which has been pushed heavily by the US government and will be under the control of US forces in S. Korea. It is outrageous that the South Korean government considers US citizens who stand in solidarity with Korean opponents of THAAD as enemies of the state. THIS IS NOT WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE.”
Asked why the Ministry denied their entry to South Korea, an official from the Ministry of Justice said: “The ministry made such a decision based on Article 11 of the Immigration Control Act. We cannot give you more than legal explanations.”