News / Asia

Australian Missionary's Wife Says N. Korea Detention is Not Political

Karen Short, wife of Australian missionary John Short, poses with a photo of her husband inside the Christian Book Room in Hong Kong, Feb. 20, 2014.
Karen Short, wife of Australian missionary John Short, poses with a photo of her husband inside the Christian Book Room in Hong Kong, Feb. 20, 2014.
The wife of an Australian missionary detained in North Korea says she does not know why her husband was arrested, insisting he had no political goals for visiting the isolated, communist country.

Karen Short spoke with VOA on Thursday by telephone from Hong Kong, where she and her husband, John Short, 75, have lived for more than 50 years as Christian missionaries.

She announced Wednesday that her husband was detained, possibly for possessing Korean-language religious material, while on a tour in Pyongyang. Since then, she has been bombarded by phone calls from media around the world.

"I have been asked this question pretty much every time - 'What are your demands?' I do not have any demands to the government, because that is not my place to demand anything from them. But to know that they are being prayed for and I would like to see my husband come home because he is not against Korea, he is for North Korea and for the people," she said.

Short says her husband "is not political, and never has been." But she says they were aware of the dangers in visiting North Korea, which severely restricts organized religion and where Christian proselytizing is especially viewed as foreign meddling.

"He believed it was the right thing to go, and he cares about the situation there and the people there and he wanted to go and make a difference, be there, see the people and let them see him and see that he is not intimidated to travel there having been granted a visa this second time, because that is what he does, we are Christian missionaries," she said.

On a previous visit to North Korea, Short said her husband was able to pass on religious material, such as Gospel tracts, but "with great discretion and care," as he was under constant surveillance by government minders.

But she says this time, he must have done something to draw attention to himself or displease authorities. But she has no idea what that may have been.

"He is a courageous person, he is not intimidated by people or afraid of people, particularly communist regimes because of experience here [Hong Kong] and a lot of travel in China. So he believes he has nothing to hide. He has gone in to shine his light there in what we regard as a dark place," she said.

Australia's government has said it will do all it can to work for Short's release, but since it does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, it is forced to work with other countries who do, such as Sweden.

FILE - American missionary Kenneth Bae speaks to reporters at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital, N. Korea, Jan. 20, 2014.FILE - American missionary Kenneth Bae speaks to reporters at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital, N. Korea, Jan. 20, 2014.
x
FILE - American missionary Kenneth Bae speaks to reporters at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital, N. Korea, Jan. 20, 2014.
FILE - American missionary Kenneth Bae speaks to reporters at Pyongyang Friendship Hospital, N. Korea, Jan. 20, 2014.
John Short is at least the second Christian missionary to be detained in North Korea. Forty-five year-old Korean-American Kenneth Bae is currently serving a 15-years sentence of hard labor after being found guilty of trying to overthrow the government.

When asked if she fears her husband will share the same fate as Bae, Karen Short said she will deal with that reality when and if she is forced to do so. For now, she insists she is "a bit weary but in good spirits," saying she survives by praying and knowing that many people around the world are also praying for her.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid