south Korea: Protest Against Forced Conversion of Political Prisoners


Urgent Appeal Case: UA980715
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention,

On 2 July 1998, SARANGBANG Group for Human Rights, a network member from Korea issued a statement against forced Conversion of political prisoners. They are seeking your support and assistance on this issue.


On 1 July, the minister of Justice, Sang-chon Park confirmed that the government would abolish ‘the conversion’, and implement a oath to observe the existing laws from political prisoners. At the same time, he acknowledged the conversion had infringed the freedom of conscience.

We, human rights NGOs welcome that the government recognized the conversion violate the fundamental rights and freedom in this statement. However we deplore that the authority force the political prisoners including long-term prisoners to write such a oath. We think it is another form of conversion.

Under the oath, the political prisoners must swear to observe the order of laws and not to use any violence before their release. Moreover, the prosecutor will visit each of them after the oath and examine the genuineness of the oath. This is why we believe the oath is another oppression against the freedom of conscience.


In Korea, there are hundreds of political prisoners detained under the National Security Law, so the oath means that the government demand them to acknowledge the National Security Law. In this context, the oath is another form of the conversion. Especially the prisoners imprisoned over 30 or 40 years have refused the conversion. Therefore it is expected that they cannot but refuse the oath for keeping their conscience.


Many human rights NGOs have issued statements of criticizing the oath. The Lawyers Society for Democracy (Minbyun), Mingahyup Human Rights Group, National Alliance for Democracy and Reunification of Korea (Naduk), Democratic Legal Studies Association, and Sarangbang Group for Human Rights stated that any form of conversion and compulsory expression to reveal one’s own conscience infringe the fundamental human rights and freedom. They insisted that the government should repeal any form of conversion and release all prisoners of conscience without any condition.


Please write letters or faxes requesting the following:

URGE South Korean government to repeal the conversion unconditionally.


1) President Kim Dae-jung, The Blue House, 1 Sejong-no, Chongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Faxes: +822 770 0253 or +822 720 2688 (via Ministy of Foreign Affairs)

2) Mr Park Sang-chon, Minister of Justice, 1 Chungang-dong, Kwachon-myon, Shihung-gun, Kyonggi Province, Republic of Korea. Faxes: +822 503 3337

3) Diplomatic representatives of South Korea accredited to your country

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA980715
Countries : South Korea,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention,