"Who would have thought that state officials could beat up reporters from a partner country like this at a national event attended by head of state, which is neither a warzone nor a violent protest site", the KPPA said. A Yonhap picture shows the journalist on the ground.
When the guards tried to block journalists from entering another event hall, even though they showed identity cards, a photographer surnamed Lee objected.
That set the stage for a visit by South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha to Beijing last month at which she and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi affirmed their commitment to fix relations.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday during a visit to Beijing aimed at repairing ties frayed by a dispute over the deployment of an American anti-missile system.
The South Korean foreign ministry told reporters at a regular press briefing on Thursday the government had contacted Beijing about the incident.
He took a severe beating while being completely surrounded by the guards despite strong protests from his colleagues and South Korean officials, including those from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
GETTYFears Kim could be gearing up for another military provocation have been heightened in recent days
"There is no question that China is extremely anxious about the downward spiral of the North Korean crisis", said Christopher Hill, former US ambassador to South Korea and the current dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
The incident occurred at a Beijing convention centre during the opening ceremony of a trade partnership event attended by Moon, who began his four-day state visit on Wednesday.
In what is seen as a signal of goodwill, Beijing has started lifting curbs on group tours to South Korea and on K-pop, which is popular in China.
"For reasons known to all, China-South Korea relations have experienced some setbacks", Xi said before meeting the South Korean president, quoted in Bloomberg.
The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea is likely to have halved year-on-year in 2017, costing the country almost US$4.6 billion in tourism-related revenues, reported on Wednesday Yonhap news agency, citing an estimate from the country's central bank, the Bank of Korea. This comes after China and South Korea in October agreed to work to get their relations back on track after a year-long standoff over the deployment the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. "I hope and believe that your visit will be an important opportunity to improve relations as we seek to find ways to carve a better path based on mutual respect and trust", he added.
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