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North Korea Expels US Aid Worker

Sandra Suh (r) hugs an unidentified woman at the arrival gate of the Beijing Capital International Airport, April 9, 2015.

North Korea has expelled a Korean American aid worker, accusing her of engaging in propaganda against the country.

On Wednesday, North Korea’s official news outlet, Korean Central News Agency, said the country was deporting Sandra Suh, whose Korean name is Suh Gye-ok, for engaging in “plot-breeding and propaganda.” The news agency said 81-year-old Suh produced videos and photos and used them as propaganda against the state.

But Timothy Park, a missionary who traveled to the country with Suh, said she had not done anything wrong.

“I don’t know what they [North Koreans] have found from the investigation. They are making false accusations,” said Park in a phone interview with the VOA Korean Service Thursday.

Park added he does not know why Pyongyang expelled his co-worker.

According to Park, he and Suh traveled to Pyongyang on March 21 on a humanitarian trip to deliver medicine, including painkillers and antibiotics. They were scheduled to leave on March 24, but Suh was stopped at the airport and only Park was allowed to leave.

Suh was released Thursday after a two-week detention and sent to China. The U.S. embassy in Beijing confirmed her arrival in Beijing.

Suh, a U.S. citizen, heads a Los Angeles-based Christian aid group called Wheat Mission. According to the group’s website, its mission is to “serve the under served population of [North Korea] through strategic partnerships by providing humanitarian aid and supporting sustainability projects.”

Suh has done humanitarian work to help the communist country for over 20 years. Sources who are familiar with her efforts described her as a devoted humanitarian worker.

Last week, a German aid group said Pyongyang expelled one of its workers in February without providing a reason. The move has drawn protests from Berlin.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.

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