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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More