South Korean intelligence authorities tentatively concluded that the Chinese restaurant Dongbangmyeongju, which operated along the Han River in Jamsil-dong, Seoul, was in effect acting as a “secret police” for the Chinese government. However, the South Korean government is said to be struggling with the lack of proper punishment and possible diplomatic friction with China. It is an observation that it is likely to send a ‘circumvention warning’ to the Chinese government as a punishment for Wang Haijun, the actual owner of the Oriental Pearl.
Inviting VIP guests
According to the Korea Economic Daily’s coverage on the 18th, the intelligence authorities investigated Dongbangmyeongju, a Chinese restaurant in Seoul that caused controversy over ‘espionage activities’, and as a result, they acted as secret police by performing consular duties and handling the repatriation of Chinese in Korea to China. It was confirmed that an internal conclusion was made that it had been carried out. Experts point out that establishing an office without obtaining official consent from the Korean government and ‘disguising’ as a private restaurant to represent consular affairs is highly likely to violate the law.
The intelligence authorities also viewed the fact that the Oriental Pearl House took charge of various events presided over by the Chinese embassy, which could be suspicious of the involvement of the Chinese government. It is known that Oriental Pearl has been in charge of various awards ceremonies targeting Chinese in Korea. In addition to this, in addition to the restaurant for the general public, a separate ‘ VIP hall’ was operated. It is said that the exclusive VIP pavilion of the Oriental Pearl House served as a hideout for high-ranking Chinese officials. Key figures in Korea also used the exclusive VIP hall, and officials said that the possibility that eavesdropping and wiretapping took place here cannot be ruled out. An official who does business in China said, “I was usually invited to Oriental Pearl when I met important Chinese figures.”
Human Rights Group “Repatriation is a Human Rights Issue”
The intelligence authorities are known to have confirmed that people critical of the regime and students were invited to the Oriental Pearl. In particular, the fact that he acted as an agent for the repatriation of Chinese nationals residing in South Korea is an issue that could be a diplomatic issue. This is because it is highly likely that the Oriental Pearl played a role in inviting people who were critical of the system to their home country. International human rights organizations pointed out that since last year, the Chinese government has been hiring police officers and students overseas to open a new type of liaison office. The Oriental Pearl is likely to be one of them.
Laura Art, director of the international human rights organization ‘Safeguard Defenders’, said in an interview with the domestic media in the past, “We confirmed that branches connected to the Chinese police were established in each region without the permission of the relevant country.” A large number of people have been forcibly repatriated to China.” Wang Haijun, the actual owner of the Oriental Pearl, held a press conference at the time the suspicions arose and said, “We supported the return of about 10 Chinese nationals who were killed or injured due to unexpected circumstances such as diseases.” There is no,” he retorted.
I think I’ll end with a ‘warning of circumvention’
It is said that the Korean government is in a dilemma over the level of punishment for Oriental Pearl. The intelligence authorities are said to have handed over all information related to the Oriental Pearl investigation to the police and district offices. The Seoul Songpa Police Station sent Wang Haijun to the prosecution in March on charges안전놀이터 of violating the Food Sanitation Act and the Outdoor Advertising Act. It is known that Songpa-gu and the National Tax Service are also reviewing Wang Haijun’s tax evasion charges. In this regard, it is evaluated that the direction of warning punishment was set rather than direct punishment for ‘espionage’.
The fact that South Korea does not directly take issue with the Chinese government over the secret police case is also related to the current legal system. Even if the secret police activities are true, the current law does not have a suitable provision for punishment other than the criminal law. The current counterintelligence regulations are set by the Presidential Decree, so there are no separate punishment provisions, and the target of espionage activities stipulated in the crime of espionage is also limited to the ‘enemy country (North Korea)’.
It should also be taken into consideration that China may take retaliatory measures if the level of punishment is increased. This is because the actual benefits from the Eastern Pearl’s punishment are not great, but the damage caused by the strained relationship between Korea and China can be great.
An official familiar with the case explained, “Civilians residing in China can suffer damage right away.” .