A Rockaway man who had been held in South Korea since February on charges he violated the countrys national security law by supporting the publication of a controversial book was convicted last week and sentenced to three years probation, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said Friday.
Sam Song, a 56-year-old man who is a naturalized U.S. citizen and opened a chapter of a political club in Flushing, was found guilty by a judge in Seoul, South Korea, of three counts of violating the countrys law, said the spokeswoman, Karolina Walkin.
Since February, Song had been held in Seoul after traveling there to testify on behalf of a Japanese man who published a book supporting the reunification of the Koreas, which have been separated since 1948. In particular, the book supported a plan embraced by North Korean President Kim Il Jung.
It was not clear whether Songs sentence would have to be carried out in South Korea, Walkin said.
Another State Department official, Valerie Chittenden, said Monday that post-trial procedures were still underway in South Korea.
Chittenden said she was under the impression that South Korea was considering allowing Song to return to the United States, but she could not say for sure what the country will decide.
Songs daughter, Ann, said Monday her family is expecting Song to come home Sunday if all goes well. He calls every week from South Korea and seems to be doing fine, she said.
I kind of think its not his fault, Ann Song said. All he did was say this is a good book.
Reported first by the Korean Times in February, Songs case had attracted growing attention from elected officials like U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) after learning of Songs arrest on Feb. 26 when he testified at a trial on behalf of the publisher.
In April, an indictment was handed up charging Song with two counts of violating the national security of law of South Korea. The first involved his support of the book, Kim Il-Jungs Strategy for Reunification, while the second stemmed from his traveling to North Korea to visit his younger brother. Songs daughter, Sarah, said in an earlier interview that the South Korean government thought he was a spy.
Throughout his trial, Song was released on bail and lived with his older brother in Seoul. The couple owns a card-and-gift shop in Brooklyn, Sarah said.
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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