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US Missionary Still Missing in North Korea

It was exactly one month ago that American Christian activist Robert Park made his illegal crossing into North Korea. His fate still remains all but completely unknown to his friends and family.

A close associate of Robert Park says more than 2,000 people from various nations may attend a February 25 rally in Seoul to support the missing American missionary.

Jo Sung-rae, head of an activist group in the South Korean capital, says he has faith Park will be all right.

He says he is not worried at all, since God will take care of him.

Colleagues say Park, a resident of the U.S. state of Arizona, walked into North Korea across a frozen river on Christmas day, December 25. They say he brought a bible and a letter for North Korean leader Kim Jong Il urging him to embrace Christ's love and close down labor camps where experts believe about 200-thousand North Koreans are held for political crimes.

Pyongyang's official news agency released a report last month acknowledging a U.S. citizen had been taken into custody, but the North has never publicly referred to Park by name.

North Korea tolerates no uninvited foreign influences or criticism of the official state ideology, which worships members of the ruling Kim family as demi-gods. Human rights activists say Christians are singled out for especially severe punishment.

Activist Jo says Park's parents are standing by their son.

He says Park's parents respect the purpose with which their son entered North Korea.

U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights Robert King said during his recent visit to Seoul that Washington is working with friendly governments to seek information on Park's welfare.

"We have requested that our protecting power in Pyongyang determine his condition and we have not heard what that is," he said.

The phrase "protecting power" refers to Sweden's embassy in the North Korean capital. Sweden occasionally fulfills certain diplomatic functions on behalf of the United States, which has no formal relations with North Korea.