A South Korean prisoner charged with drug-related crimes has been put to death in China.
The execution took place on August 4 in Guangzhou, a city in the coastal Guangdong province bordering Hong Kong and Macau.
Seoul’s requests for mercy fell on deaf ears in Beijing, according to a statement from a South Korean foreign ministry official who shared the news.
China had alerted the prisoner’s home country through diplomatic channels before the execution, an official said.
South Korea expressed regret over its national’s execution from a humanitarian standpoint, per media reports.
The Korean authorities had made multiple appeals to Beijing, urging them to reconsider or delay the execution, the official added.
The man who was executed on Friday had been arrested in China in 2014 on drug trafficking charges.
The district court sentenced him to death five years later, and the appeals court upheld the decision in November 2020.
Earlier this year, the Chinese Supreme People’s Court reviewed the case one final time and upheld the death sentence.
At the time of his arrest, the man was allegedly found with five kilograms of methamphetamine.
According to Article 347 of China’s Criminal Law, those caught smuggling, selling, transporting, or producing more than 1kg of opium or more than 50g of methamphetamine or heroin may face the death penalty, life imprisonment, or a minimum of 15 years in prison.
South Koreans Executed in China
Approximately 70 Koreans are believed to have been detained or arrested in China for drug-related offenses.
Since the 2000s, Beijing has executed seven South Korean nationals.
In 2001, authorities executed a person convicted of drug offenses, and in 2004, they did the same to a person found guilty of murder.
In 2014, China executed four South Korean nationals convicted of drug offenses, marking the last such execution before Friday.
China’s use of the death penalty remains secretive, and the total number of annual executions is unknown.
Amnesty International considers Beijing one of the world’s top executioners, surpassing Iran and Saudi Arabia.