South Korea's Supreme Court Affirms Refugee Status of Falun Gong Practitioner

South Korea’s Supreme Court upheld a decision to grant a Chinese national refugee status because she practices Falun Gong. The spiritual practice, also known as Falun Dafa, is persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party. The February-24 ruling was the first time South Korea’s highest court has acknowledged Falun Gong practitioners are likely to be persecuted if they return to China.

The woman in question, identified as “A”, left China in 2001. In 2004, she took up Falun Gong in Korea, and participated in numerous events to expose the Chinese regime’s persecution of the practice. She sought refugee status in 2005, which was eventually granted by the Seoul High Court last November. In February, South Korea’s Supreme Court affirmed that status after dismissing an appeal by the country’s Justice Minister.

For A’s lawyer, this latest decision came as a relief.

[Cho Young-Sun, Lawyer]:
“I had felt difficulties. Because as a refugee she would face political persecution back in China…In A’s instance, for the Court to acknowledge that her activities related to Falun Gong inside Korea would result in the Communist government’s oppression. This result was very much a blessing to me.”

In January, the South Korean government deported three Falun Gong practitioners to China, despite claims they would face persecution there.

Another lawyer, who has represented Falun Gong practitioners in the past, says this latest ruling will set a new precedent.

[Kim Nam Joon, Lawyer]:
“In any case, the Supreme Court has set new standards with this precedent. Especially with Falun Gong refugees, I hope in the future they are treated calmly and not with a stricter than normal standard.”

The Chinese Communist Party has brutally persecuted Falun Gong since 1999. Practitioners around the world frequently expose the regime’s atrocities. To date, there are nearly 3,500 confirmed deaths as a result of the persecution. Many more have been illegally imprisoned or sent to labor camps, where they face severe torture and abuse.