S.Korean pastor jailed over N.Korean trip*
SEOUL, South Korea: A South Korean pastor was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for travelling to North Korea without Seoul’s permission and praising its regime.
Reverend Han Sang-Ryol was convicted of making an unauthorised visit to the North, meeting top officials and spies there and making statements praising its communist leaders.
All these activities breached the South’s strict National Security Law, which bans unauthorised contact with the North, the Seoul central district court said in a statement.
“It is acknowled that the defendant carried out activities benefiting the North,” the court said.
“Glory to peaceful reunification,” Han, 60, shouted after the sentence was passed. Prosecutors had demanded a 10-year jail term.
Han was arrested on August 20 on his return from a 70-day stay in the North. During his visit he allegedly gave speeches praising leader Kim Jong-Il and denouncing the South’s President Lee Myung-Bak.
The Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements, headed by the pastor, said in a statement after his indictment that Han had fallen victim to an anti-communist smear campaign.
North Korea has urged the South to stop what it called the “fascist suppression” of the pastor.
The two Koreas have remained technically since their 1950-53 conflict ended only in an armistice and without a peace treaty. -- AFP