» 03/03/2014, 00.00
Pyongyang frees Australian missionary John Short: humanitarian act following confession
The missionary, 75, was arrested on February 16 for handing out religious material. Two other missionaries, Kenneth Bae and Kim Jeong- wook, still in the hands of the regime.
Seoul ( AsiaNews) - North Korean authorities this
morning released 75 year old Australian missionary John Short, arrested on
February 16 on charges of "illegally distributing religious material". Short,
who has lived for decades in Hong Kong with his wife, arrived a little while
ago at Beijing airport. He
said he was "very, very tired," and added that for now, he "intends
only to rest". Pyongyang
released him "in consideration of his age" and "in light of the
fact that he confessed his crimes and apologized. This is a generous decision".
regime's official KCNA press statement reads: "John Short committed a criminal act by secretly spreading his Bible
tracts around a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang. He admitted that his activities
were criminal acts hurting the Korean people's absolute trust in their leader,
violating the independent right of North Korea.
He earnestly requested the forgiveness. North Korea decided to expel him
from the territory, thanks to the tolerance of the law and in full
consideration of his age".
there are still two other Protestant missionaries in the hands of the regime
led by Kim Jong-un: American
Kenneth Bae, sentenced in May 2013 to 15 years in prison for " hostile
acts against the nation" and South
Korean Kim Jeong- wook, arrested in October 2013, who disappeared
altogether until February 27, when he appeared at a press conference to "admit
his crimes" and ask for "forgiveness of the State". Pyongyang
has rejected the request for his release made by the Seoul Government, but
has not yet announced whether he will be prosecuted for such crimes.
North Korean constitution guarantees religious freedom on paper, but in fact it
does not exist in the country. The only form of religiosity permitted by the
government is the cult of personality of the dictator and his ancestors: Kim
Il-sung and Kim Jong-il are revered semi- deities, and the incumbent leader Kim
Jong-un their direct descendant. In Pyongyang there are three churches - two
Protestant and one Catholic - but they are considered a facade for tourists and
non-governmental organizations. There are no resident priests or religious, but
only officials of the associations established by the government to control the
Pyongyang: Christian missionary from South "confesses his crimes" on TV
Kim Jeong -wook was arrested last October on the border with China and had since disappeared into thin air. During a press conference he admitted his "crimes" and pleaded for the "mercy” of the Stalinist authorities. Australian missionary John Short and the American Kenneth Bae still in the hands of the regime.
19/02/2014 NORTH KOREA - HONG KONG
Christian missionary arrested in Pyongyang for distributing "religious material"
John Short, a 75-year-old Australian, has lived in Hong Kong for about 50 years. His wife does not know "where he is and what he has been charged with". However, he "is not reckless," but simply "cares for people that live in such difficult circumstances."
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