A South Korean legislator who has staged a 10-day hunger strike outside China's embassy collapsed on Friday during a rally denouncing Beijing's repatriation of North Korean refugees.
Park Sun-Young, from the conservative opposition Liberty Forward party, fainted while leading the rally by about 100 religious and other activists.
"We want China to immediately stop repatriation," the activists shouted as Park was carried to an ambulance, an AFP photographer at the scene said.
The rally came as visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-Hwan for talks on North Korea and other issues. Yang was scheduled to visit President Lee Myung-Bak later in the day.
Park, 55, launched her fast on February 21, vowing to continue until death unless Beijing ends its policy of sending back North Korean escapees rather than treating them as refugees.
Braving sub-zero night temperatures, she had been living in a tent near the embassy. Her strike has sparked a fresh series of anti-Beijing protests and rallies.
Activists and Seoul lawmakers say about 30 North Koreans who recently fled to China will soon be sent back. They face harsh punishment or even death in their homeland, according to the activists.
Some have already been returned, according to local media reports.
Seoul has repeatedly urged Beijing to treat fugitives from the North as refugees and not to repatriate them. China says they are economic migrants and not refugees deserving protection.
The UN refugee agency and rights watchdog Amnesty International have also urged Beijing not to send the people back. Amnesty says returnees are sent to labour camps where they are subject to torture. (AFP)
[속보］‘단식 농성’박선영 의원, 실신
중국 억류 탈북자의 강제 북송 중단을 촉구하며 11일째 단식농성을 벌이고 있는 자유선진당 박선영 의원이 2일 실신, 병원으로 이송됐다.
박 의원은 이날 오후 2시 단식 농성을 벌이고 있는 서울 효자동 중국 대사관 앞에서 열린 ‘중국 정부의 탈북자 북송 반대를 위한 문화제’에서 발언을 마친 뒤 쓰러져 서울대 병원으로 이송돼 치료를 받고 있다고 자유선진당이 밝혔다.
박 의원은 지난달 21일부터 11일째 단식중이다.