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In Korean Jails

To the Editors:

Your readers may be interested in the following letter, which was sent to Korean president Roh Tae Woo during his recent visit to the United States.

Dear President Roh:

On behalf of 2,100 American writers, we welcome you to the United States of America. We hope that your stay in our country is enjoyable and that your meeting with President Reagan proves successful.

We also congratulate you on the ongoing democratization of the Republic of Korea. As you may know, at the PEN Congress in Seoul, we expressed particular concern for the writers and publishers who were in prison in your country and are therefore pleased to learn of the October 3 release from jail of publisher Lee Tae-bok and poet Lee San-ha. However, we remain gravely concerned about the other writers—Kim Hyon-jang and Kim Nam-ju—who are still in prison. In addition, evidence suggests that poet Chang Ki-pyo, playwright Chu Ju-sik, and publishers Chang Ui-gyun and Kim Chong-sik, have been imprisoned as a result of their opinions or literary work. We would like further information about their situation.

South Korea has recently been the focus of the world’s attention. You have hosted the Olympics and the 52nd International PEN Congress, two events which celebrate freedom; and you have made significant gestures to indicate that it is your genuine wish to lead the Republic of Korea toward democracy, but democracy cannot be successful without freedom of expression. As long as writers, journalists, and publishers suffer for having voiced their opinions, the Republic of Korea cannot claim to be part of the free world.

We urge you to stand by the democratic principles which govern your Constitution and to do all within your power to hasten the release from prison of Kim Hyon-jang and Kim Nam-ju, and all others who have been punished for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Susan Sontag, President; Arthur Miller, Vice-President, International PEN; Faith Sale, Co-chair, Freedom-to-Write Committee; Karen Kennerly, Executive Director

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