SEOUL (Reuters) – A Chinese man who rode a jet ski more than 300 km (186 miles) across the sea to South Korea from China was jailed in his home country several years ago for mocking its leader, Xi Jinping, a South Korean. activist said Wednesday.
South Korea’s coast guard said it detained a Chinese man in his 30s on Aug. 16 after he traveled from China on an 1,800cc jet ski, wearing a life jacket and helmet and carrying a telescope, compass and five containers of fuel with him.
The Coast Guard has not identified the man taken into custody in the western coastal city of Incheon. Reuters was unable to immediately contact the man and a Chinese embassy press officer declined to comment.
South Korean activist Lee Dae-seon identified the man as Kwon Pyong. Lee said he was imprisoned in China after posting a selfie on social media in 2016 in which he wore a T-shirt with slogans mocking President Xi.
“He seems to have decided to run after feeling political pressure,” said Lee, who said he visited Kwon in a detention center on Tuesday.
“He is considering taking refuge in a third country for now,” said Lee, who describes himself on his website as an activist for international solidarity and head of the Seoul office of the group called “Dialogue China.”
Kwon appeared to be in good health after his jet ski journey, which South Korean media said lasted 14 hours, Lee said.
US-based Radio Free Asia reported that Kwon was jailed in 2017 after he “used words, images and videos to insult and defame the government of this country and the socialist system” on social media.
A South Korean Coast Guard official said the man made no mention of refuge or asylum during their investigation.
(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; editing by Robert Birsel)