Jin Gyeong-suk

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Jin Gyeong-suk
Native name 진경숙
Born June 24, 1980 (1980-06-24)
Died 2005 (aged 24)
Chongjin, North Korea
Nationality North Korean
Other names Jin Kyung-sook
Citizenship South Korean

Jin Gyeong-suk (June 24, 1980 – 2005), also known as Jin Kyung-sook, was a North Korean woman who, after successfully defecting to South Korea in 2002, was abducted in China two years later and forcefully deported back to North Korea, where she was tortured and murdered.[1]


In August 2004, Jin, who had acquired South Korean citizenship after her arrival there two years earlier, and her husband, Mun Jeong-hun, traveled on their honeymoon to the Jilin Province in northern China. Commissioned by a Japanese film production company, the couple had planned to make a video about the involvement of the North Korean regime in the drug trade. In this context, they met a supposed middle-man on the Chinese side of the Tumen River, which forms a border between China and North Korea. This middle-man was supposed to smuggle a video camera into North Korea, to facilitate gathering of evidence on film of the drug production taking place there. The meeting with the middle-man turned out to be a trap. Jin and her husband were abducted by four men disguised as road construction workers, but who, it is believed, were agents of the North Korean secret service. While her husband managed to escape, Jin Gyeong-suk was forced into a sack and transported across the Tumen River into North Korea. Later investigations showed that she was deported to the Chongjin concentration camp in the northern Hamgyong Province, where she was interrogated, tortured, and ultimately murdered.


The case proved to be politically highly charged, and indeed for two reasons:[2]

  1. Since Jin held a South Korean passport, the case involved the kidnapping of a South Korean national on Chinese soil. Thus both South Korea and China were also involved. As a North Korean citizen, the legal situation of Jin would have been a different one, since China maintains a practice of turning over defectors from North Korea to the North Korean authorities. Chinese authorities asserted that, at the time of kidnapping, Jin was actually located on North Korean territory to help her sister escape from North Korea.[3]
  2. The question arose whether Jin had actually been kidnapped or only arrested in accordance with North Korean law. That law stipulates a punishment for foreign nationals suspected of espionage of up to seven years imprisonment in a Labor Camp. Since she held a South Korean passport, such law could have applied to Jin Gyeong-suk. A government official said: "We are always telling defectors that China is a dangerous place for them, but these incidents happen. We cannot comprehend how you could claim your right to free travel and then try to sell a North Korean video identified as a North Korean defector."[2]

Petitions for release[edit]

Jin's abduction to North Korea garnered a flurry of media attention. Various human rights organizations intervened, expending considerable energy and resources to seek Jin’s release; they attempted as well to determine whether Jin was still alive. The family petitioned to then South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun and pushed for her return to South Korea, without, however, receiving a response from the president.[4]


Jin died in early 2005, at the Chongjin concentration camp. The cause of death was determined to be the result of the residual effects of torture to which she had been subjected to.[1]


  1. ^ a b Amnesty International: Newsletter THE WIRE, Issue January/February 2010, Women Shaping Their Own Lives, P. 20. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b The Chosunilbo: Daily News From Korea Article from 08 September 2004: Was North Korean Defector kidnapped or arrestet? Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  3. ^ Daily NK Artikel vom 24. August 2005: Former General of People's Army Kidnapped by National Security Agency. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Victims of Abduction: Jin Kyung Sook's Family Petition to the President". Daily NK. September 9, 2006. Retrieved July 15, 2012.