|Evangelist’s HK-based wife admits he knew the dangers of proselytizing in Pyongyang
Australia's prime minister on Thursday urged citizens abroad to obey the laws of other countries after an elderly Australian missionary who carried Christian pamphlets was detained in North Korea.
The evangelist, a former member of Unley and Elizabeth Global Hall Brethren, has left Christian pamphlets at a Buddhist monastery in North Korea and his guide has complained to authorities, his traveling companion, Chinese Christian Wang Chong has said.
Australian John Short, 75, was arrested in his Pyongyang hotel on Sunday, a day after he arrived, his family said. He has lived in Hong Kong for 50 years and has been arrested previously in China for evangelizing.
“He was carrying Korean literature on his person and that could be the reason, but again I don't know,'' his wife, Karen, told The Associated Press.
“If you are in another country, be careful to obey their laws. If you're in trouble, the Australian government is there to do its best to help,'' Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in Sydney.
Short's wife said he was visiting North Korea for the second time. His first trip was a year ago “so he knew what he was going into,'' she said. She said he wanted to be there “rubbing shoulders with people as much as possible.''
“It's not an open country and it doesn't welcome Christians _ yes, we realize that,'' his wife said. “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.''
Staff at the reception desk at Pyongyang's Yanggakdo Hotel, one of the city's main hotels for foreigners, said Short had stayed until Tuesday.
Short's Chinese traveling companion Wang Chong, said they first came to authorities' attention on the second day of their tour during a visit to a Buddhist temple.
Wang, also a Christian, told Australian Broadcasting Corp in Beijing that Short left a Christian pamphlet in the temple, which a local tour guide reported to security officials.
Officials later found a quantity of Korean language Christian pamphlets in Short's hotel room, Wang said.
The Chinese travel agency that booked the trip, BTG, said it had discussed Short with its North Korean counterpart since his detention.
“When we called the North Korean travel agency, they said he had admitted that he didn't go to North Korea only for tourism,'' BTG employee Han Weiping told ABC today.