North Korea frees 75-year-old Australian missionary

In Other News Various Asia News - March 4th, 2014
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John Short, an Australian missionary detained in Pyongyang, was deported to Beijing after reportedly apologizing to North Korean authorities for covertly spreading religious material in the reclusive state.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency said Short, 75, admitted breaking North Korean law and apologized in a written confession.

“The relevant organ decided to expel him from the territory of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, thanks to the tolerance of the law of the DPRK and in full consideration of his age,” KCNA reported Monday.

Short, who lives in Hong Kong with his wife, arrived in the North Korean capital from Beijing as a tourist. He was detained after distributing Christian pamphlets near a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang in what state media described as a “criminal act”.

KCNA published Short’s written apology.

“I now realized the seriousness of my insult to the Korean people on February 16th because I made the Korean people angry and for this I truly apologize,” the statement read.

“I request the forgiveness of the DPRK for my actions. I am willing to bow down on my knees to request this tolerance of the DPRK and the Korean people.”

Short was also accused of “spreading his Bible tracts in the Pyongyang Metro on a crowded train, causing a chaos in the sound public order of the DPRK” in August 2012, KCNA reported.

Analysts said North Korea released Short so soon after his detention in a bid to portray a soft side following a recently published United Nations report accusing the isolated nation of human rights abuses.

Although the regime is known to push high-profile detainees to make false confessions.

North Korea sentenced US citizen Kenneth Bae, also a missionary, to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly trying to overthrow the state. Bae has denied the accusations.

By Maesie Bertumen

Main Image: Flickr/ sergeant killjoy