On February 7th, Robert Park, 28, arrived back in the United States. He had crossed illegally from China into the North Korea on December 25, carrying with him letters calling on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to shut down the country’s political prison camps and step down from power.
On February 12th, the Arizona Daily Star reported: [Robert] is “very weak” after spending 43 days in the communist country. Robert Park is being cared for by several doctors, said his father, Pyong Park, who was reached by telephone Thursday at his home in Encinitas, Calif. Pyong Park said he did not want to discuss his son’s condition at this time. He said his son was not at home. “He has a few doctors around him right now,” Pyong Park said.
Park had returned to the U.S. looking thin and pale and burst into tears when he met his parents at the airport. Acquaintances say it was a noticeable change from the excitable Robert Park they knew, who walked into North Korea on Christmas Eve on a mission to convert the regime, which he apparently believed came straight from God.
What happened? A former senior North Korean official who defected to the South said, “Ninety-nine percent of these so-called press conferences in the North are faked through torture and coercion.” The State Security Department is in charge of such cases. Investigators from the psychological warfare office reportedly attempt to penetrate the inner world of detainees or suspects through an alternate series of torture and conciliatory persuasion. The investigators keep the detainees awake until they surrender.
On February 25th, a notice posted on a web site said that Park “will break his silence about his time in North Korea at noon today” [at a given address appearing to be the Chinese Consulate in Washington DC] Robert Park did not appear at the press conference.
On February 26th, the following post, purportedly from Robert Park, appeared: This is my first direct email — I have been tormented and I apologize for my insane behavior lately. A friend has been managing my email account. I don’t call people easily because of my spiritual condition — I’ve had bouts of rage and intense temptations to kill myself (because of inner torture) since leaving DPRK.
March 2nd, a further notice on the same site: Robert Park, as a result of suffering torture in the DPRK North Korea is currently being held against his will at Community hospital of Long Beach in California, United States. He was drugged and taken by force into the mental hospital and has been classified Gravely Disabled, “unable to provide for your own food, clothing, and shelter.” He has been there since Feb 27, 2010.