|Aussie evangelist provoked Pyongyang with Christian leaflets in Buddhist temple
An elderly Australian evangelist detained by North Korea left pamphlets promoting Christianity in a Buddhist temple. His guide informed security officials, his travel companion told media.
Hong Kong-based John Short, 75, a former member of Unley and Elizabeth Global Hall Brethren, was taken from his Pyongyang hotel on Monday by North Korean police, two days after arriving from Beijing as part of a small tour group, according to his wife Karen, AFP reports.
He is held for allegedly distributing Korean-language Christian pamphlets (Pictured) and attempting to proselytize, which is illegal.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said he was on a two-man trip with Chinese Christian Wang Chong, who has returned to Beijing and said their problems stemmed from a visit to a Buddhist temple.
He said Short left pamphlet materials promoting Christianity at the site.
“They took us to a mountain to visit a temple and a Buddhist statue was broken or smashed by someone. The door of this temple was damaged too,'' Wang told the broadcaster.
“They were not happy for us to see this damage. We took some photos. They asked us to delete them and we deleted them.
“Mr Short believes in God. I believe in God too. He didn't feel comfortable in his heart and he left a pamphlet there relating to the gospel.''
Their local North Korean tour guide reported this, and security officials found more Korean-language material in his luggage at his hotel, Wang said.
The ABC said the Chinese tour company that booked the trip, BTG, was in touch with its North Korean counterparts, and employee Han Weiping claimed Short had admitted he was there for more than just tourism.
“When we called the DPRK travel agency they said he had admitted that he didn't go to North Korea only for tourism,'' Han told the ABC, adding that the trip was supposed to be for four days.
“The pamphlet event happened on the second day,'' she said.
“And on the third day it was planned for them to visit some sites, but the Australian man said he didn't want to go out and instead wanted to stay in the hotel.
“So the North Koreans could've become even more suspicious that he wasn't there as a tourist.''
Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday used Short's detention to warn travellers they must obey the laws of the countries they visit.