News / Asia

S. Korea Urges North to Release Detained Missionary

Kim Jung-wook, a South Korean Baptist missionary, speaks during a news conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, Feb. 27, 2014.
Kim Jung-wook, a South Korean Baptist missionary, speaks during a news conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, Feb. 27, 2014.
Daniel Schearf
South Korea has urged North Korea to repatriate Kim Jung-wook, one of its citizens detained for the last four months for Christian missionary activities. Pyongyang has accused the man of spying and trying to overthrow the government in the latest in a series of arrested missionaries.

The South Korean Baptist missionary was paraded to the media earlier in the day in Pyongyang and revealed he was arrested in October.  In an apparent stage-managed confession, Kim admitted to trying to topple the North Korean government.   

Kim professed to encouraging North Koreans to destroy statues of former North Korean leaders and build churches in their place.

He said he was trying to turn North Korea into a religious country by destroying its present government and political system. He added that he received money from South Korea's intelligence service and followed their instructions, arranging North Koreans to act as their spies.

Kim went on to say he set up an underground church across the border in Dandong, China, where he collected information from North Korean defectors for South Korea's National Intelligence Service or NIS.

The NIS denies he was a secret agent.

North Korea in November had said it detained a South Korean spy but refused to provide information or release the individual.

South Korea's Ministry of Unification Thursday said North Korea's behavior was inhumane.

Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do urged Pyongyang to behave responsibly and guarantee the safety of Kim Jung-wook.

He says it is difficult to understand why North Korea considers their citizen, whose activities are purely religious, as a criminal against the country. He says the South Korean government strongly urges North Korea to immediately release their citizen and return him.

Kim made his alleged confession sitting at a table under large portraits of North Korea's former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

The Associated Press, the only western news agency in Pyongyang, reports the media was not allowed to ask questions.

Kim Young-hwan is an activist and researcher at the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (NKNet). He was jailed in China in 2012 for helping defectors along the border and said the missionary, was probably pressured and threatened.

He said North Korea does not want other religions to replace its self-reliance (Juche) ideology or the Kim Jong Un family. If it happens, he said, the system will be in danger so North Korea has a very hostile reaction to religion. Kim said North Korea has a very hostile attitude to missionary activity both in the country and targeting North Korean defectors in the border area.

North Korea is holding American missionary Kenneth Bae who was detained in November 2012. He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor for attempting to topple the government.

Last week North Korea arrested Australian missionary John Short after he left a Christian pamphlet in a Buddhist temple.

It is not yet clear what charges the 75-year-old Short may be facing.

VOA Seoul Bureau producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs