Australian Christian Missionary Arrested in North Korea

By:  Warren Mass
Australian Christian Missionary Arrested in North Korea

John Short, an Australian Christian missionary, was questioned at his hotel in North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang on February 16, and then detained by law-enforcement officials. Authorities had questioned him about Christian writings translated into Korean that he had in his possession.

Short’s wife, Karen, learned of her husband’s arrest from a friend who had traveled with Short in a tour group originating in China, and who returned to China on February 18.

In an interview with Reuters, Karen Short said that her husband had been open with North Korean officials about his Christian faith and read his Bible in front of government guides during his first trip there. “He won’t be intimidated by the Communists,” she said.

Short said her husband was visiting North Korea for the second time and his first trip was just last year “so he knew what he was going into,” reported Fox News. She said he wanted to be in North Korea “rubbing shoulders with people as much as possible.”

“There’s risk involved. He knew that too, but when you know what you must do, you do it,” she noted. “It’s not an open country and it doesn’t welcome Christians — yes, we realize that. But that doesn't mean we stand by and don’t do anything because we care for the situation and we pray about it but sometimes you have to do more than talk.”

In an interview with the Christian Book Room, the Gospel publishing ministry the Shorts run, Karen Short said: “I know he’s courageous and he’s in God’s hands. I believe that at the right time that the right thing will happen and he will be released.”

In a telephone interview from her home in Hong Kong with The Advertiser, an Adelaide, Australia-based newspaper, Short told of her reaction to her husband’s arrest, as well as her hope that he will be returned safely:

We’re Christians and we’ve been here [in Asia] for 40 years. He’s a frontline man — this is what he does. But North Korea is very different — that’s why his heart was to go there. I’m asking people to pray for him.

The Advertiser reported that since Australia and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations, negotiations to secure Short’s release are taking place with the Australian consulates in Hong Kong and Jakarta and with Swedish and South Korean authorities based in Seoul, South Korea.

“That’s how these things work, I understand,” Mrs. Short said. "Our best hope is that they realize he’s not a political campaigner and just throw him out of the country.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Photo of John Short: AP Images

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