Trump-Kim summit: At least 9 South Koreans involved in separate protests in Singapore; five of them deported

(Three of the four South Koreans who were involved in a protest near Capella on the day of the Trump-Kim summit on 12 June, 2018. They were later advised by the police to disperse. PHOTO: Wong Casandra/Yahoo News Singapore)
(Three of the four South Koreans who were involved in a protest near Capella on the day of the Trump-Kim summit on 12 June, 2018. They were later advised by the police to disperse. PHOTO: Wong Casandra/Yahoo News Singapore)

At least nine South Koreans staged protests in venues linked to the Trump-Kim summit this week, with five of them arrested under the Public Order Act and deported on Wednesday (13 June).

In response to media queries, the police said on Wednesday that in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, they have administered a stern warning to the five South Koreans – all women – following the quintet’s arrest on Monday.

Their visit passes were also cancelled and they have been repatriated to South Korea on Wednesday evening, added the police.

The five women were arrested on Monday at around 9.10pm along Tanglin Road near St Regis, the hotel where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his delegation were staying.

Around the same time, Kim was on his way in a motorcade to visit the Marina Bay Sands, Gardens By The Bay, and The Esplanade.

According to the police, the same group of South Koreans was in the vicinity of Sentosa’s Capella Hotel, where the summit was held, earlier on the same day with banners to promote their cause. It is unknown what their cause was.

They then travelled in the evening to the vicinity of Shangri-La Hotel, where US President Donald Trump and his delegation were staying.

The police had found them near the Shangri-La possessing protest placards and warned the group to leave the area.

The group, however, did not comply with instructions from the police to leave the area and instead made their way down to St Regis. There, the group was again stopped and warned by the police not to carry out any protest activities.

“During the engagement, they refused to cooperate with the police, became rowdy and started to shout. Despite police’s repeated warnings, the group continued shouting and were subsequently arrested,” said the police.

The police added that the women also “struggled” and were “uncooperative” during the arrest.

Ahead of the historic meeting between Trump and Kim on Tuesday, areas of the summit had been designated as “Enhanced Security Special Event Areas” from 10 to 14 June.

These event areas include parts of Tanglin – home to the US embassy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, St Regis, Shangri-La Hotel – and Sentosa.

“In fact, (the group was) in a smaller (and) even more restricted Special Zone where security is even tighter because of their proximity to where the USA and DPRK leaders are staying and where the summit meeting is being held,” said the police.

Protest over hostages and Korean War remains

In a separate incident on Tuesday morning, a group of four South Koreans – two men and two women – seen along Artillery Avenue in Sentosa holding banners were advised not to carry out protest activities, said the police.

This reporter, who was at the scene of the incident, observed that the group was waiting in the vicinity of Capella Hotel from around 10am. Two members of the group were later seen holding banners calling for the release of South Korean hostages and remains from the Korean War.

One of the men had worn a red shirt with the words “Strong Korea” and was carrying both miniature South Korean and American flags. He later identified himself as Choi Jong-pyo, 65, a member of non-profit organisation Kim Dong-sik Pastor Repatriation of Remains Centre.

The second man, Kim Kyou-ho, 52, a pastor and the organisation’s director, told Yahoo News Singapore that the group arrived in Singapore on Monday for the summit and would be returning to Seoul on Wednesday. He added that they were waiting for Kim’s departure from the summit.

“We want to say, ‘Kim Jong Un, please send the (captured) South Koreans home’ (when the North Korean leader comes out after the summit),” said Kyou-ho in English. “The nuclear problem is very important, but human lives have the same importance.”

While addressing the media at about 10.35am, Kyou-ho and one of the women, Kim Gi-young, 69, had unfurled two banners. One of them read, “If North Korean wants real peace, release the six South Korean detainees immediately!”

(Video screencap)
(Video screencap)

Kyou-ho then spoke on behalf of his compatriots, claiming that Gi-young’s father, a businessman whose current fate remains unknown, was kidnapped by the North. He also alleged that a pastor friend of Choi’s was kidnapped in China by the North in 2000 and is feared dead.

About 25 minutes later, the group was approached by two police officers and asked to head down to The Speakers’ Corner, the only location in Singapore where protests are allowed to be staged.

“They heeded the police’s advice and left the location,” said the police.

The maximum sentence for taking part in a public assembly without a permit is a $5,000 fine.

Two South Korean reporters deported

The incidents involving the protestors came after two South Korean journalists were arrested last Thursday on suspicion of trespassing at the residence of the North Korean ambassador at 60 Joo Chiat Lane. They were deported last Saturday, a day before the two leaders arrived in town for the summit.

Another KBS journalist and an interpreter, who were under investigation, had been determined by the police to have not committed any criminal offences.

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