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Sam Song, the Rockaway man who was convicted in South Korea of violating the countrys national security law, returned home to the United States late Saturday night, ending uncertainty about whether he would have to serve his sentence of three years probation in Seoul.
Reached by phone Monday evening, Song deferred comment about his arrest and trial in Seoul, South Korea until Friday, when he was expected to hold a news conference.
Song, 56, a naturalized U.S. citizen who heads a political organization in Flushing, had been held in Seoul since February when he traveled there to testify on behalf of a Japanese man who published a book on the reunification of the Koreas. The book, Kim Il-Jongs Strategy for Reunification, supported the rejoining of North and South Korea, which have been separated since 1948, but under a plan embraced by North Korean President Kim Il-Jong.
In earlier interviews, Songs children said their father had been involved in Korean politics while in the United States, going so far as to establish a Flushing chapter of a political group that espoused reunification. His political beliefs were what brought him to Korea earlier this year as well as a visit to his brother, who lives in North Korea.
In April, Song was indicted on charges of violating the national security law of South Korea. One count stemmed from his testimony at a hearing on behalf of the Japanese publisher, the other from his visit to North Korea. His daughter, Sarah, said the South Korean government believed her father was a spy.
During Songs detainment, several elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), became involved in the case, calling for South Korea to release Song if the charges against him only involved his supporting the book.
Immediately after his conviction almost two weeks ago, there was some question about whether Song would be forced to carry out his sentence by living in South Korea, a question that was put to rest with his arrival back home to Rockaway over the weekend.
Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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