Friday, September 9, 2011

North Korean Agents Implicated in Missionary Death

9/9/11 North Korea (Sydney Morning Herald) - A South Korean missionary working with North Korean refugees in China died suddenly in the street amid suspicions Pyongyang agents were involved, a newspaper and another missionary said Friday. Another South Korean activist working elsewhere in northeast China has alleged he himself was stabbed with a poison-tipped needle in a separate non-fatal incident, the Korea JoongAng Daily reported.

Seoul's foreign ministry said it did not know whether there was any North Korean involvement in the incidents, but its diplomats had asked Chinese authorities to ensure the safety of South Koreans near the North's border.
The ministry said it was investigating an alleged non-fatal attack on a 59-year-old activist, which had not been reported to Seoul's consulate in Shenyang or to police. The consulate "has strongly requested the related organisation in the Chinese government to ensure the safety of South Koreans in border regions, and plans to take necessary measures to prevent further incidents from happening," its statement said.

The Korea JoongAng Daily said there are suspicions both men were the victims of North Korean agents trying to silence voices of dissent, but there was no firm evidence of this. It said the activist who survived had collapsed in the street in Yanji in the Chinese province of Jilin and was rushed to hospital.

The unidentified man said he had been stabbed in the waist with a poisoned needle after leaving a sauna, the paper said. He had reportedly been openly protesting against the North's regime. Tim Peters, a Seoul-based Christian activist, said he had a "very strong suspicion" but no evidence that the missionary who died had been poisoned by the North's agents.

He told AFP the victim had been involved in evangelical work among North Korean refugees, an activity that was taken extremely seriously by the regime. Peters founded Helping Hands Korea, an organisation involved in evangelising and giving general assistance to refugees from the North who cross into northeast China.

Asked if missionaries were in fear of such attacks, he said: "There's a kind of sobering awareness that this is always lurking in the shadows. It's part of the price one pays for doing missionary work in this area."
South Korean pastor Kim Dong-Shik was kidnapped in Yanji in January 2000 and taken to North Korea, according to Seoul authorities.

Kim had been reportedly involved in helping refugees flee to South Korea via a third country. His fate is unknown(Source).

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