Saturday, December 26, 2009 | Tag Cloud
By Worthy News Chief International Correspondent Stefan J. Bos
SEOUL, KOREA (Worthy News)-- A 29-year-old American Christian missionary has entered North Korea to urgeleader Kim Jong Il to repent and release political prisoners and others persecuted for their faith, fellow activists said Saturday December 26.
Robert Park crossed into North Korea from China late Friday, December 25, carrying a letter urging the North Korean leader to release political prisoners, including Christians, shut down "the concentration camps" where they are held, and open the borders to allow aid teams to enter.
South Korea and Western governments say North Korea maintains a network of political prisons. Park was quoted by activists who went with him to the border as shouting when he went across: "While crossingthe frozen river in a snowstorm, Park shouted loud, saying 'I'm a US citizen, I came here to proclaim God's love'.
"But all were silent on the other side of the river. We assume he was arrested by North Korean border guards there. But we don't know about his fate," an activist said on condition of anonymity.
The activists asked not to be named due to security concerns. A video was to be released shortly. Park told reporters earlier this week in Seoul that he saw it as his duty as a Christian to make the journeyand did not want the U.S. government to try to free him.
"I don't want President Obama to come and pay to get me out. But I want the North Korean people to be free," he said. A colleague said Park, a Korean-American, is a member of an international campaign called "Freedom and Life for AllNorth Koreans."
There has been no response from the North about the crossing.American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, of the U.S. media outlet Current TV, were arrested in March after accidentally crossing into the North while working on a story.
They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor, but were freed as part of a diplomatic mission led by former U.S.President Bill Clinton in August.
Netherlands-based Open Doors International, a respected rights group investigating reports of persecution of Christians, has told Worthy News and its partner agency BosNewsLife in recent years that as many as over one million people may be held in "concentration camps", which include several punishment camps for political prisoners and dozens of forced labor camps.
"It's possible that the number of prisoners are well over one million," said the Open Doors' North Koreadirector who identified himself only as 'Brother Simon' amid security concerns.
"Many camps are so hugethat they can't be spotted on satellite images," he explained at the time. "The camps are complete villages."Despite the pressure, there are hunderds of thousands of Christians in North Korea, according to Open Doors estimates.
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