John Short, a Christian missionary traveling to North Korea for his second visit, has been arrested in the rogue country’s capital Pyongyang, his family says.
The 75-year-old was traveling on a regular tour group at the time of his detention. He lives with his wife in Hong Kong where they are reportedly active in the Christian Book Room, a gospel-publishing ministry. His family was informed of his arrest by a fellow tour group member who returned to China this week.
Short was carrying religious texts that had been translated into Korean. Disseminating such materials is considered a crime in the communist state.
Short joins 45-year-old Korean-American Kenneath Bae as high-profile foreigners detained in the Hermit Kingdom. Bae was detained in November 2012 and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly trying to overthrow the state.
The Australian government does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea, but is instead using the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang to try to establish Short’s wellbeing. According to a biography published online, Short had previously been arrested multiple times for missionary work in China.