BREAKING NEWS: North Korea Releases American Missionary

Sunday, February 7, 2010 | Tag Cloud

By Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Chief International Correspondent

Robert Park has been released.

BEIJING, CHINA (Worthy News)-- Amid international pressure, North Korea released an American missionary Saturday, February 6, and sent him to China after holding him for more than a month, officials confirmed.

The United States Embassy in Beijing said Robert Park arrived there early Saturday, February 6, and was expected to be flown to the U.S. later in the day.

In an earlier statement, the U.S. State Department stressed that no deal with North Korea was made for the release of the missionary.

The 28-year-old Korean-American, from Tucson, Arizona, was detained on Christmas Day, December 25 after he crossed into the North from China.

Shouting "I came here to proclaim God's love," the missionary carried a Bible and a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong II asking him to release political prisoners, including those persecuted for their faith, and open the country for aid, fellow activists said.

"Please open your borders so that we may bring food, provisions, medicine, necessities,and assistance to those who are struggling to survive," he reportedly wrote in the letter. "Please close down all concentration camps and release all political prisoners today."


North Korea holds at least 154,000 political prisoners in six large camps, according South Korean government estimates. However many more people, including Christians, are held in camps across the country, said well-informed Christian rights group Open Doors.

North Korea has denied the existence of these camps.

Media in the isolated nation quoted Park admitting having a "wrong understanding" of the North and that he now knows the country "respects the rights of all people and guarantees their freedom."

The report says his admission, which colleagues have suggested was made under duress, led the Pyongyang government "to forgive" and release him.

Park was inspired to go there by a biography about the "first Christian martyr" of present day North Korea, according to a BosNewsLife and Worthy News investigation published December 27.

He wrote in an e-mail obtained by Worthy News that he was "amazed" by the book 'Chosen for Choson' on the life and violent death of another, 19th century, missionary, Robert Jermain Thomas, written by Stella Price.

"I want to thank you and [author] Mrs. Price for the amazing biography of missionary Thomas's life," he wrote to the author and her husband Dr. Stephen Price."I don't know if I had the chance to tell you, but I was very moved by it and not only I but also my dad has had a chance to read the brilliant book and he to was very moved," Park wrote in the e-mail.


Born in Wales, Missionary Thomas traveled with Bibles on an American armed trading ship to Pyongyang,the present-day capital of North Korea. In 1866, the ship became stuck on a sandbank in a nearby river and was attacked by Korean soldiers.

Thomas, 27, reportedly stood on the deck of the burning ship, opening his cases of Bibles and flung the books to those who lined the banks of the river. Before he was beheaded, he apparently also gave Bible to his executioner.

Several Koreans reportedly rescued Bibles and brought them home to be used as wallpaper. After reading the texts on the walls of their homes, many became Christians, according to the biography.

Fast forward, in the 21st century that event apparently made an impact on Park and his family. "My Dad's family is from the North, and were Christians there before fleeing because of the persecution and war," wrote Park.

Dr. Price, who founded medical mission group Emmaus Road Ministries (ERM), told Worthy News and BosNewsLife that he and his wife received the e-mail "a few days" before Park left for North Korea.


Some criticized Park's decision to enter into North Korea as "reckless". "I just feel that this was a reckless and misguided adventure," said Tim Peters, founder and director of Helping Hands Korea, a Christian charity group supporting North Korean refugees, in published remarks.

Dr. Price disagrees. "I have known Robert for several years...He is a passionate young man...prayerful...not a publicity seeker," he said.

There were concerns among other critics that the missionary's detention could complicate talks on nuclear disarmament with North Korea.

However the South Korean news agency reported Saturday, February 6, that a senior Chinese Communist Party official is to travel to Pyongyang in the next few days in an apparent attempt to get North Korea to return to the negotiations.

North Korea abandoned talks last year that involve the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea after the United Ntions Security Council imposed sanctions on it for firing a long range rocket.

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10 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS: North Korea Releases American Missionary”

  1. {{{ ....Shouting "I came here to proclaim God's love," the missionary carried a Bible and a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong II.... }}}

    "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26

    • "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23

      "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

      "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

      • "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6

        "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
        And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" John 11:25-26

        "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
        And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation 22:16-17

  2. I thank Robert for his Christian Witness. Just crossing in Faith was enough alone. May he know that he has been a good and faithful servant and may God bless him and let Robert know how proud HE is of him.

    • about a half an hour before the assaociated press releesed the release story my wife and I found out that he was in China He is back in La and soon to be back in Arizona I am very honored to have him as friend from the moment we found out that he had crossed into Korea We began to pray that the message he carried would be heard latter on that day we started reading news stories Give all the honor to God

  3. It is marvelous what the Lord Jesus does through our prayers. (sincere) especially when we pray in agreement with others. I am awaiting my miracle for my hearing to be restored. Please pray for me.
    May God Almighty richly bless you. Thanks for sharing the tremendous testamony.
    Thank God and thank you

  4. Way to go. The only way the people residing in North Korea are going to be reached is through selfless bravery such as this. I am convinced that Mr. Park has made an impact.

    • Amen!

      "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isaiah 55:11


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