By Chris Fuchs
The South Korean government opened its case Tuesday against a Rockaway man who was arrested in late February for violating the countrys National Security Law, officials from the U.S. Department of State and South Korean consulate said.
Christopher Lamora, a spokesman for the State Department in Washington, said prosecutors in Seoul, South Korea, appeared in criminal court Tuesday in the arrest of Sam Song, a naturalized American citizen accused of supporting a book that advocates the reunification of the Koreas under the plan of North Korean President Kim Jong Il.
The judge set Songs next court date for May 24, Lamora said, adding that a representative from the consulate had appeared with Song in the proceedings Tuesday.
Kang Soo Seo, a spokesman for the Korean consulate in New York, said in an interview Tuesday that he believes the trial will go fast, but was uncertain about precisely how long the legal proceeding usually lasts.
Nearly two weeks ago U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), wrote a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell asking the State Department to take a role in the case. The letter went on to say that if the charges against Song included only his support of a book, he should be released immediately.
Jordan Goldes, a spokesman for Ackerman, said the representative has not received any response from the State Department. Lamora said he could not confirm whether the letter was received, but he did say that the department has been involved in the case since Songs arrest in February.
Golden also said Ackerman was trying to reschedule a meeting with the South Korean ambassador to the United States after the ambassador abruptly canceled one two weeks ago.
In early April, the South Korean government handed up an indictment in which Song was charged with violating two articles of the National Security Law, Lamora said.
The first article under which Song is charged accuses him of infiltration from or escape to an area under the control of an anti-government organization, an allegation that stems from a trip he took to North Korea last year to visit his brother, Lamora said.
The second, which stems from Songs supporting a book on reunification written by a Japanese man that is sympathetic to North Korea, accuses him of publishing and distributing materials praising the activities of an anti-government organization.
It was unclear what penalty Song could face if ultimately convicted of either or both charges.
Song, lives with his wife and two children in Rockaway and owns a candy shop in Brooklyn. In addition, he runs a political organization in Flushing that advocates the reunification of the Koreas, which were separated into two regimes in 1948.
Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2001 Community News Group
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