HONG KONG — North Korea has arrested a Christian missionary from Australia, his family said Wednesday, taking him into captivity even as it faces pressure to release an American missionary it has held for more than a year.
The Australian, John Short, 75, was arrested in the capital, Pyongyang, on Sunday, according to his wife, Karen. She said the trip was her husband’s second to the Communist dictatorship. He was in possession of religious materials that had been translated into Korean, according to a statement by his family.
John Short’s detention comes more than a year after North Korea arrested Kenneth Bae, an American missionary, after he entered the country from China. Bae was eventually sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for committing “hostile acts” against the North, and Pyongyang has repeatedly resisted strong US pressure seeking his release.
In an interview with Reuters, Karen Short said her husband had been open with North Korean officials about his faith and even read his Bible in front of government guides during his first trip there.
“He won’t be intimidated by the Communists,” she said.
North Korea was faulted this week in a sharply critical UN report for, among other problems, its intolerance of religious freedom. The report cited the North’s practice of “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, rape, and persecution on grounds of race, religion, and gender.”
John Short has been repeatedly arrested in China after doing evangelical work there, according to a biography of him posted on a Christian website called Gospel Attract.