By BosNewsLife Asia Service
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (BosNewsLife)– A North Korean defector has been detained in China for helping an American missionary cross into North Korea, Korean media said Sunday, January 17, citing Free North Korea Radio.
The arrested activist, who was only identified as Kim, reportedly helped Robert Park last month with crossing the frozen Duman (or Tumen) River, which marks China’s border with the North.
Kim was reportedly arrested in possession of video footage of Robert Park’s Christmas Eve crossing. “We’ve confirmed through various channels that Kim, who was staying at a hideout in Yanji, Jilin Province, was arrested by Chinese police last Friday,” Kim Sung-min, the head of dissident station Free North Korea Radio, said Sunday, January 17, in comments monitored by South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
Kim has reportedly South Korean citizenship, but there was no immediate reaction about the detention from South Korean officials Sunday, January 17.
Missionary Park, a U.S. citizen of Korean ancestry, claimed he had seen a vision from God of North Korea’s liberation and redemption, his colleagues said, adding that he crossed the border shouting “I came here to proclaim God’s love”.
The 28-year-old Christian carried with him a letter urging North Korean leader Kim Jong-II to free political prisoners, including Christians, shut down “the concentration camps” where they are held, and open the borders to allow aid teams to enter. He wrote: “Please open your borders so that we may bring food, provisions, medicine, necessities, and assistance to those who are struggling to survive. Please close down all concentration camps and release all political prisoners today, and allow care teams to enter to minister healing to those who have been tortured and traumatized.”
Park added, “All we are asking is for all North Koreans to be free, safe and have life. With Love, Respect and Goodwill towards All People.”
Critics of the North Korean leadership have said it is against reform and that people have been tortured and even executed for opposing the regime or holding Christian worship services.
Park has made clear he does not want the U.S. government to try to free him.
NORTH KOREA DETENTION
North Korea has confirmed it has detained Park for “illegally entering the DPRK (North Korea) through the DPRK-China border on December 24.” “He is now under investigation by a relevant organ,” Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency said in a December one-paragraph report.
Critics have described Park’s action as “reckless” and say it may complicate U.S.-backed talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear program. However Dr. Steven Price, a friend of Park, told BosNewsLife that Park did not seek publicity. “We honor deeply Robert Park who went to North Korea to deliver Christ’s message of love and forgiveness and pray for his safe return.”
The United States State Department has expressed concerns about Park’s situation and Sweden, which represents US interests in Pyongyang in the absence of diplomatic relations, has offered to seek more information. (With reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).