By BosNewsLife Asia Service
SEOUL/PYONGYANG (BosNewsLife)– Concerns were mounting Wednesday, February 26, over the whereabouts of an elderly Australian Christian missionary, more than a week after he was detained in North Korea.
John Short, 75, was arrested in the capital Pyongyang last Sunday, February 16, while openly expressing his Christian faith during on what was his second mission trip to the isolated Communist-run nation, his wife told media.
“He won’t be intimidated by the communists,” Karen Short said.
She said her husband had evenly openly read his bible in front of government guides when in Pyongyang during his first trip to the country. “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.”
Short told reporters that representatives from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told her they have yet to establish contact with her husband who was reportedly charged with “proselytising”, the word used for attempting to concert people to Christianity, and “distributing religious material”.
She said officials told her they are in constant communication with the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, which is apparently in contact with North Korean officials.
Short is the second known Western missionary held in North Korea. The country has also held American missionary Kenneth Bae for more than a year and convicted him of “trying to overthrow” the government.
A North Korean court sentenced Bae to 15 years’ hard labor and efforts by Washington to secure his release have so far failed.
In published remarks, Short’s wife said she “was not upset” about her husband’s arrest. “We are Christian missionaries and we have tremendous support for what we do,” she added speaking from Hong Kong.
Christian rights groups suggest the Western missionaries are among at least some 100,000 Christians trapped in the country’s notorious prison camps, though some suggest that figure may be several times higher.
In the camps, Christians reportedly face torture, forced labor and possible execution.
Many of them are persecuted for remaining faithful to their faith in Christ and refusing to show “total devotion” of the individual to an ideology promoted by the late leader Kim Il Sung, rights groups say.
North Korea is consistently listed as the “top persecutor of Christians” in the world by Christian rights groups including Open Doors International, which is working in the country.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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