International

N. Korea deports Australian missionary

The official news agency said the man apologized for spreading Bible tracts in Pyongyang

Australian missionary John Short, left, with an unidentified escort, leaves Beijing International Airport on Monday.
Vincent Thian/AP

North Korea on Monday deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity in the country, saying he apologized for his anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness.

Authorities in North Korea had arrested John Short for secretly spreading Bible tracts near a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang on Feb. 16, the birthday of late leader Kim Jong Il, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said. The late leader's birthday is one of the nation's major holidays.

The report said that Short, 75, admitted he committed a crime that hurt the Korean people's trust in their leaders and that he apologized for his behavior.

KCNA said North Korea decided to expel him in part out of consideration for his age.

Short arrived later Monday on a flight to Beijing, where he declined to speak to reporters saying he was too tired and was escorted to a vehicle from the Australian Embassy.


Short arrived later Monday on a flight to Beijing, where he declined to speak to reporters saying he was too tired and was escorted to a vehicle from the Australian Embassy.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement that "Australian consular officials stand ready to provide assistance to Mr. Short to ensure he can return to his home in Hong Kong as soon as possible."

North Korea typically frees foreign detainees after they've admitted their crimes, but many say after release that their confessions were given involuntarily and under duress. Last week, North Korea presented to the media a detained South Korean Baptist missionary who apologized for allegedly trying to reach Pyongyang with Bibles, Christian instructional materials and movies in October.

North Korea has been holding a Korean-American missionary, Kenneth Bae, since November 2012. Bae, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for hostile acts, held a similar news conference to apologize his behavior.
 
Short has been arrested multiple times while evangelizing in mainland China, according to a biography on a Christian website, Gospel Attract.

The Associated Press


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