Photo by Save Jeju Now/ Paco Booyah after the court hearing on May 9, 2013


There was an original court judgement on Paco Booyah, an international peace worker staying in Gangjeong on Feb. 8, 2013. See here. He was the 1st international to stand in the court in person, in relation to the naval base project issue. On Feb. 8, the judge, Kim Kyung-Sun made a decision of ‘postponement of sentence’ on 700,000 won fine, saying he has ‘no criminal record in the past, his act happened during the NGO activities, and the damage of the victims (company) is  little as the whole duration of his sitting time [in front of gate] was short (* which was 8 min. during a daily Catholic mass). Even though the judge Kim said he was guilty, she did not accept the prosecutor’s demand of 6 months prison sentence against him on Dec. 21, 2012 when the only hearing of original court trial on him was held.

However, the prosecutor has appealed to court against the original court decision. On May 9, there was a hearing of it in the Jeju local court, which is the first as well as the last hearing of the appeal court. It started around noon and lasted for about 30 minutes.

The prosecutor talked on the reason of his appeal against Booyah saying that: 1. The accused does not acknowledge and does not show any of his repentance, 2. There is the possibility of his committing second offense.  3. [Compared to sentence on Koreans in the same charge of obstruction of business] the original court sentence on him is too weak.

In repute of it, Paco Booyah’s lawer, Paik, argued on harsh and unjust Immigration Control Act, especially in relation to No. 3, saying that she cannot agree with the prosecutor’s definition of weighing of an offence against him. The summary of her repute is that:

The policy of ROK Immigration Office on foreigners is too harsh. She has heard from an Immigration officer that a foreigner with 100,000 won fine sentence could be forcefully deported by option. Further, it is heard that there is even an internal regulation of the Immigration Office that it would forcefully deport a foreigner only if one gets fine sentence. According to the Immigration Control Act, one cannot make re-entry at least for five years if one gets injunction. One cannot ignore possibility that one cannot make re-entry again, for a long time, in fact. In relation to naval base project, about 21 internationals- some of whom have never visited Gangjeong-have been denied entries(* Wang Yu-Hsuan is the latest victim of it). Once deported, the victims have to endure suffering from the matter of separated family, in case. One should not argue on balance with the cases of Koreans.

The lawyer Paik also said that Paco Booyah has been recently carrying out international NGO peace activities by  focusing on recording photos. He might suffer from the possibility that he cannot re-enter Korea once deported though he has his family members in Korea.

As Paco Booyah has stated in his statement as the accused, he has not done anything that the police and prosecutors would pick him up, following  police call four times and prosecutor’s indictment against him. Even though the current Immigration Control Act is unjust and vicious, he has no intention to make disadvantageous of his life as he has family members in Korea and as the act is currently working. In other words, there is little possibility of his second ‘offence’ that the prosecutor ‘asserts.’ Further it was only 8 min on July 23, 2012 that he made so called ‘sit-in’ that the prosecutors talk. Moreover, it was during the daily Catholic mass and he was sitting there because of hot weather while taking photo record.

The people who watched trial today could not but be shocked that the prosecutor raises his reason of appeal from the baseless inference that Paco Booyah has the possibility of so called ‘second offence’ and that he shows ‘no repentance,’ which is without proof. We should watch whether the ROK prosecutor authority loyal to the government and Samsung would oppress another innocent international peace worker or not. We should also watch whether the ROK judge make a just decision.  We should join together to protect their safety.

The court decision on Paco Booyah will be at 2 pm on May 30.


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