Seventy-five-year-old Australian Christian Missionary, John Short, faced unknown fate as he was being held in North Korea for distributing Korean-language Christian pamphlets and attempting to proselytize.
What made his plight all the more unknown is that the Australian government is powerless as it has no diplomatic contact in North Korea. The country had only been relying on Swedish officials to intervene with Mr Short's plight.
Karen Short, wife of the elderly missionary, said that her husband had always dedicated to visit troubled countries where he thinks he is needed. Mrs Short shared that her husband is also a religious author who pens and translates Christian teachings into Asian languages. Mr Short had also spent 50 meaningful years in China, Myanmar and Vietnam.
"It's not the easy places that need help," she said
She said they both knew about the dangers of his passion but they are not frightened.
"We both knew before he went in what he was going into. It's a difficult country but as Christians that's what we do - you go into the difficult places to make a difference. I would love him to be home but I know my husband and he is well able to face what he's facing I believe," Mrs Short said during an interview with Fairfax Radio.
"This is his life work. He loves China, he loves Chinese and worked in Asia in the difficult areas where people have real deep need."
Mr Short came to North Korea as part of a small tour group from Beijing with Chinese Christian Wang Chong.
Mr Chong told media in Beijing that their problems with the authority started upon their visit to a Buddhist temple where a Buddhist statue was broken, looking like smashed by someone. The door was damaged too according to Mr Chong.
"They took us to a mountain to visit a temple and a Buddhist statue was broken or smashed by someone. The door of this temple was damaged too. They were not happy for us to see this damage. We took some photos. They asked us to delete them and we deleted them. Mr Short believes in God. I believe in God too. He didn't feel comfortable in his heart and he left a pamphlet there relating to the gospel," Mr Chong told Beijing media.
Apparently, their North Korean tour guide told security officials that Mr Short left pamphlets at the temple. Officials then raided Mr Short's hotel room and found more Korean language Christian pamphlets in his luggage.
In a report from ABC, it said that the Chinese tour company had already been in contact with its counterpart in North Korea.
"When we called the DPRK travel agency they said he had admitted that he didn't go to North Korea only for tourism," Han Weiping, employee for the booking agency told ABC.
Ms Weiping said that the trip was supposed to last for four days and Mr Short was arrested during the second day of the trip.
"The pamphlet event happened on the second day. And on the third day it was planned for them to visit some sites, but the Australian man said he didn't want to go out and instead wanted to stay in the hotel. So the North Koreans could've become even more suspicious that he wasn't there as a tourist."
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