An elderly Australian missionary detained in North Korea has been released, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed.
“The Government has confirmed through the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang that Mr Short has been released and was being deported from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” a DFAT spokesperson said.
“Clearly this is welcome news for Mr Short, his family and his supporters. Australian consular officials stand ready to provide assistance to Mr Short to ensure he can return to his home in Hong Kong as soon as possible.
“Noting the lack of Australian diplomatic representation in the DPRK, we take this opportunity to thank the Swedish Government for their tireless efforts on this difficult consular case in recent weeks.”
North Korean state media had earlier reported that John Short had been expelled from the country after apologising, and admitting he broke local laws.
Short was detained after he reportedly left Christian leaflets at a Buddhist temple. North Korea, according to KCNA, allowed him to leave partly because of his age.
From state-run media outlet KCNA, here is Short’s apology:
I am John Alexander Short living in Hong Kong and a citizen of Australia.
I violated the independent right and offended against the law of the DPRK.
I knew that my actions would offend the independent right and would be against the law of the DPRK.
I wanted more Korean people to be Christians therefore I secretly spread Bible tracts written by me.
I heard from the TV and newspaper reports that the DPRK is the closest closed socialist country in the world.
I heard from the reports the religious freedom is not in North Korea. And that foreigners are not welcome to visit or attend for the Church.
In the process of hearing the reports I questioned if it was true.
In early 2012 I requested Mr Paul Baek to translate my Bible tract into the Korean language.
Mr Paul Baek is a business man from South Korea.
I designed my Bible tracts in small size for spreading easier into Korea-DPRK.
I entered the DPRK in August 2012 and personally carried a few Bible tracts and my own personal Bible.
I was interested to see if I could possibly carry more on another occasion.
I committed the criminal act against the law of the DPRK by spreading my Bible tracts in Pyongyang underground station on the train.
My mind was to make sure that I could spread more of my Bible tracts on another occasion. After that my feeling was I could spread more easier next time.
In February 2014 I came as a tourist to DPRK to spread my Bible tracts in a larger quantity.
On February 16, I visited the Popun temple and committed a criminal act by secretly spreading my Bible tracts around the temple.
I deeply apologise for what I have done by spreading my Bible tracts on February 16th, the birthday of His Excellency Kim Jong Il. The people of the DPRK regard February 16th as the greatest national holiday.
I now realise the seriousness of my insult to the Korean people on February 16th because I made the Korean people angry and for this I truly apologise.
I realise that my actions are an indelible hostile act against the independent right and law of the DPRK.
I request the forgiveness of the DPRK for my actions.
I am willing to bow down on my knees to request this tolerance of the DPRK and the Korean people.
I realise that the mass media of the USA and the western countries who say that the DPRK is the closed country and has no religious freedoms is inaccurate and wrong.
I have the decision to report to anyone my positive attitude of the reality of the DPRK.
I will tell the truth to my friends of the DPRK.
I will not commit any further criminal acts in violating the independent right and law of the DPRK.
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