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North Korea

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia, located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering South Korea and China. Its capital, Pyongyang, is the country's largest city by both land area and population. It is a single-party state led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP), and governed by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012. It has a population of 24,052,231 (UN-assisted DPRK census 2008) made up of Koreans and a smaller Chinese minority. Japan 'opened' Korea in 1876 and annexed it in 1910. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded with US support in the south in August 1948 and the Soviet-backed Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north in September that year. 

NewsHong Kong

'I committed a criminal act, I'm sorry': North Korea expels Hong Kong-based missionary

Evangelist flown to Beijing after penning apology for spreading Bible tracts at temple

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 March, 2014, 11:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 9:32am

North Korea yesterday expelled to Beijing the Hong Kong-based missionary it had accused of distributing religious materials.

Australian John Short, 75, was released after he gave North Korean authorities a written confession apologising for spreading Bible tracts at a temple on February 16, the birthday of the late "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il.

"I request the forgiveness of the DPRK for my actions. I am willing to bow down on my knees to request this tolerance of the DPRK and the Korean people," he wrote, referring to the full name of the country, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Watch: North Korea deports detained Hong Kong-based Australian missionary

Short, who has lived in Hong Kong for 50 years but is not a permanent resident, was met by Australian consular officials on arrival in Beijing.

The North Korean state-run KCNA news agency said he was freed partly in consideration for his age. The missionary arrived on a group tour in Pyongyang on February 15 and was arrested the next day.

His wife, Karen (pictured yesterday after news of the release), went public on February 19 with news of his disappearance. She had remained in Hong Kong.

Short's detention became known via David Wong, a mainland Chinese colleague who was in Pyongyang with him and was also questioned by police. Wong was allowed to return to China on February 18.

It is unusual for North Korea to let a detainee go so soon after his arrest. US citizen Kenneth Bae, also a missionary, is serving a 15-year sentence for allegedly trying to overthrow the state.

An analyst in South Korea saw the release as the North making an effort to show a soft side. It follows a United Nations report published on February 17 saying North Korean security chiefs should face justice over abuses comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.

"With the UN human rights report out, they don't want to be isolated in the international arena, so they showed a softer policy towards Australia," said Kim Han-kwon, director of the Centre for China Policy at the Asian Institute for Policy Studies, an independent think tank.

Kim said China had probably also advised a gentler approach. "With Kenneth Bae, it's a matter of North Korea and the US, and they have to show a strong position," he said.

Dr Leonid Petrov, a Korea specialist at the Australian National University, said the release "indicates human rights in North Korea, at least where foreign nationals are concerned, are respected".

Australia has no diplomatic representation in North Korea. Stockholm handles diplomatic matters on Canberra's behalf.

Karen Short, 57, said she would probably join her husband in Beijing.

"I'm so thankful; God has been with us in this," she said. "It's been quite an ordeal. He needs a few days to pause and think about what's happened."

Separately, a South Korean missionary confessed last week to spying and trying to build an underground church in the country.

Additional reporting by Associated Press and Patrick Boehler



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This article is now closed to comments

I am exercising my freedom of speech, as you are. What if there isn't any poisonous berries but somebody just tries to trick you that there is, so that he can appear a hero? OK, so he wants to save the 'eternal lives of the poor North Koreans'. So why is he leaving? Going to North Korea to preach is a doomed event from the start. Anyone could have told you that. Now he had to waste other people's time to rescue him. What did that achieve? If one brings drugs into Singapore or Malaysia, they face imprisonment and/or the death penalty. How much sympathy do these smugglers deserve if they insist on doing this with their eyes open? The same thing applies to this preacher. He knew the risks and deserves the arrest and eviction. It could have been worse.
'Saving another person's life'? That is your point of view. To an atheist, it could be 'spreading falsehoods'. We can all believe whatever religions we want, but the religious people should not foist their faiths and their standards on others. Have some respect.
"I’m so thankful, God has been with us in this," said Karen Short, a wide smile breaking across her face."
Oh yeah? Nothing to do with the Hong Kong, Australian and Swedish governments then?
"He needs a few days to pause and think about what’s happened," she said."
And a bill for the man-hours involved in getting him released for his illegal act, perchance? Or has "God" got that one covered, too?
@mercedes2233, you are sadly blind. This Christian missionary was just trying to save the eternal lives of poor North Korean people, in accordance with his beliefs. If you saw a person about to eat a deadly poisonous berry, would you not warn them? Even if you wouldn't care, what gives you the right to complain about someone saving another person's life?
Is someone spreading his belief a harassment? It could be. But living in a country with no freedom of religion, is far more worse.
He knew what he was doing, so I am not at all sympathetic. Try bringing drugs into Malaysia or Singapore, and when caught ask for release and understanding. I also object to people foistering their beliefs onto others. We would be harassed if Budhists, Muslims, Shintoists, and all the myriads of other religions started to do the same. Christians are winning at present because they bring gifts and ( in the past) diseases with them.
He has good belief and faith that you cannot understand. Please don't blame.
So what would you perceive when a muslim start distributing flyers on Islam in predominantly on-muslim areas? Apparently you'd embrace not only that person but also Islam. Perhaps, you already may have done!
You may be free to not listen to those trying to help you, and you can go right on and live with the consequences of your choice. But you have no right to say that North Koreans should not be given the same choice of what to believe. In doing so, you are as oppressive as the DPRK government.
He was stupid, stupid stupid. He wasted the efforts of countless people. I have no sympathy for him.



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