Friday, January 29, 2010

And what of activist Robert Park, and where is he?

28-year-old Robert Park, who walked across the frozen Tumen River border from Chinese to North Korean soil on Christmas Eve bearing a letter of "peace and goodwill" for Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, is believed to be quarantined like the carrier of a deadly disease.

"Robert Park will be isolated from the general public," said Kim Tae-jin, co-director of the Democracy Network Against the North Korean Gulag, who fled from North Korea more than a decade ago after having been imprisoned in the infamous Yodok Camp for more than four years. "He will not be mixed with North Korean citizens in prison. The guards will know. They will give a gag order about his detention."

It is a measure of North Korea's fear of Park's evangelical message that there has been no word about his whereabouts or the charges against him. Christian worship, mere possession of a bible or a prayer book, is a crime punishable by death in North Korea.

Recounting his moods of terror and despair before his release from Yodok, Kim Tae-jin believes Park's Christian beliefs make it too dangerous for him to stay in Yodok or any other well-known gulag where eventually his presence might become known. "There are some detention centers in the mountain areas," said Kim. "He could be kept there where people do not know about him."

[Excerpt of an Asian Times article by Donald Kirk]

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