Australian held in North Korea
A 75-year-old Australian man working as a Christian missionary in North Korea has been arrested in Pyongyang.
The government is powerless to help him directly as Australia has no diplomatic presence in North Korea and is relying on Swedish officials in the capital to check on the elderly Australian’s well-being.Jouy
John Short, who was on his second trip to North Korea, took religious pamphlets translated into Korea with him, his family said in a statement.
His wife, Karen Short, told ABC Radio on Wednesday that her husband had arrived in Pyongyang with a tour group on Saturday morning.
He had been questioned a number of times at his hotel before being arrested because of the religious materials he was carrying, she said.
“Possession of illegal materials, in that we’re Christian missionaries and he had some gospel tracts that he had written, and they were in the Korean language,’’ Mrs Short said.
“My husband does what he believes is what God wants him to do, without sounding strange, that’s him. He’s a man of faith – we’re faith missionaries – and he believed that we should care, and not just talk, but do something. That’s practical Christianity, not theoretical.’’
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was in close contact with Swedish diplomats in Pyongyang. “Australia has no diplomatic representation in North Korea and our capacity to deliver consular services there is extremely limited,’’ the spokeswoman said.
‘‘Australian interests in North Korea are currently represented by the Swedish Embassy. 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.”Saffron Howden and Reuters
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