Australian missionary John Short released by N Korea

March 7, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

North Korea, March 04, 2014: Australian missionary John Short, who was detained in North Korea for distributing Christian leaflets, has been released and deported to China, where he lives.

Australian missionary John Short releasedThe 75-year-old was freed on Monday (3 March), two weeks after his arrest in Pyongyang. Upon his arrival at the airport in Beijing, he broke down in tears as he told reporters, “I’m really, really tired,” adding that he now “intends only to rest”. John’s wife, Karen, said that she was “amazingly thankful”.

North Korea said that it had released John “in consideration of his age” and “in light of the fact that he confessed his crimes and apologised”, describing the decision as “generous”.

John, who is based in Hong Kong, was required to sign a statement; confessions scripted by the authorities are a standard prerequisite for detained foreigners seeking release in North Korea.

In the document, he admitted not just the crime for which he was arrested last month – spreading Bible tracts at a Buddhist temple – but also an earlier offence:

I entered the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in August 2012 and personally carried a few Bible tracts and my own personal Bible. I was interested to see if I could possibly carry more on another occasion.

I committed the criminal act against the law of the DPRK by spreading my Bible tracts in Pyongyang underground station on the train.

Requesting forgiveness, John’s statement said, “I realise that my actions are an indelible hostile act against the independent right and law of the DPRK.”

He was required to agree “that the mass media of the USA and the western countries who say that the DPRK is the closed country and has no religious freedom is inaccurate and wrong”.

Although North Korea’s constitution does grant religious freedom, this does not exist in practice. All North Koreans are expected to follow Juche (self-reliance), an extreme cult of personality that venerates the ruling Kim family. Other belief systems, especially Christianity, are viewed as a threat to the regime’s authority. Foreign missionaries are thus treated with extreme suspicion.

John could have shared the same fate as other Christian missionaries held by North Korea. American-Korean Kenneth Bae was sentenced to 15 years hard labour in April for carrying out similar activities. And North Korea has refused to release South Korean Kim Jeong-wook, who was arrested in October, despite his confession and appeal for forgiveness. At a press conference on 27 February, the missionary admitted to spying and attempting to “create a network of house churches in North Korea”; Jeong-wook was also said to be carrying Bibles and other Christian materials.

– barnabas team

Enter Google AdSense Code Here

Comments are closed.