Monday, December 28, 2009

American activist Robert Park “did not have a death wish”

North Korean border guards apparently detained an American missionary, Robert Park, 28, as soon as he walked into the communist nation in an effort to call attention to Pyongyang's human rights abuses.

Jo Sung-rae of the Seoul-based activist group Pax Koreana said that voices were heard on the North Korean side as soon as Park crossed over. "I think they were border guards and Robert was taken into custody immediately."

Unlike the situation with the two U.S. journalists being detained, and Bill Clinton intervening, North Korea watchers in Seoul said Park's case was unlikely to develop in the same way.

"I think it will end up an isolated episode," said Kim Yong-hyun, an expert on North Korea at Seoul's Dongguk University. "North Korea knows that it would be serving the purpose of the activist and highlight its human rights problems if it keeps holding him like it did the journalists."

Park's father, Pyong Park, quoted his son as saying before the journey he was "not afraid to die. As long as whole world pays attention to the North Korea situation

Park’s pastor Rev. John Benson said "You have to understand that for this guy, when it comes to the Lord, he's very, very serious. Unusually serious. … He was talking about the urgency of what was going on with the refugees and the atrocities he had seen. That was strong on his heart. He felt there was something more he needed to do. He was seeking God's will," he said. "But he did not have a death wish."

Read full Guardian article

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