An Australian man has been arrested while doing missionary work in North Korea, his wife said yesterday, making him the second foreign Christian missionary to be held by the North.
The wife of 75-year-old John Short said her husband was arrested in Pyongyang on Sunday and had been open about his religious work on his second trip to the country.
“He won’t be intimidated by the communists,” Karen Short said from Hong Kong by telephone.
North Korea has held US missionary Kenneth Bae for more than a year and convicted him of trying to overthrow the state. A North Korean court sentenced Bae to 15 years’ hard labor and efforts by Washington to secure his release have been thwarted.
“I’m not upset, we’re Christian missionaries and we have tremendous support for what we do,” Short’s wife said of her husband’s arrest.
Short was making his second trip to North Korea, according to a statement by his family, and was in possession of religious materials that had been translated into Korean.
Australia, which does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea, is using its embassy in Seoul, and the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, to handle the case.
“We are in close contact with Swedish officials in Pyongyang to seek their assistance in confirming the well-being of Mr Short and to obtain more information,” an Australian embassy spokesman said in Seoul.
Short’s wife said that on her husband’s first trip to North Korea, he had been transparent about his faith and had openly read his Bible in front of government guides when in Pyongyang.
“He’s courageous, this is my husband’s character,” she said. “I hope things get better — he’s in God’s hands, we both totally believe that.”