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 homeland several years ago for making fun of its leader, Xi Jinping, a South Korean activist said on Wednesday.
South Korea’s Coast Guard said it had detained a Chinese man in his 30s on Aug. 16 after he had travelled from China on a 1,800 cc jet ski, wearing a life jacket and helmet and carrying a telescope, compass, and five containers of fuel.
The Coast Guard did not identify the man who was taken into custody in the western coastal city of Incheon. Reuters was not immediately able to contact the man and a press officer at the Chinese embassy declined to comment.
South Korean activist Lee Dae-seon identified the man as Kwon Pyong. Lee said he had been jailed in China after posting a selfie on social media of him wearing a T-shirt with slogans mocking President Xi in 2016.
“He appears to have decided to flee after feeling political pressure,” said Lee, who said he had visited Kwon in a detention centre on Tuesday.
“He is considering seeking refuge in a third country for now,” said Lee, who describes himself on his website as an activist for international solidarity and the head of the Seoul office of group called “Dialogue China”.
Kwon appeared to be in good health after his jet ski voyage, which South Korean media said took 14 hours, Lee said.
U.S.-based Radio Free Asia reported that Kwon was jailed in 2017 after he “used words, images and video to insult and slander this country’s government and the socialist system” on social media.
A South Korean Coast Guard official said the man had made no mention of refuge or asylum during their investigation.
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