December 27, 2009 in Nation/World

Missionary crosses into North Korea, group says

Kswang-Tae Kim Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

U.S. missionary Robert Park, in a Dec. 9 photo.
(Full-size photo)

SEOUL, South Korea – An American Christian missionary slipped into isolated North Korea on Christmas Day, shouting that he brought God’s love and carrying a letter urging leader Kim Jong Il to step down and free all political prisoners, an activist said.

Robert Park, 28, crossed a poorly guarded stretch of the frozen Tumen River that separates North Korea from China, according to a member of the Seoul-based group Pax Koreana, which promotes human rights in the North. The group plans to release footage of the crossing today, he said.

“I am an American citizen. I brought God’s love. God loves you and God bless you,” Park reportedly said in fluent Korean as he crossed over Friday near the northeastern city of Hoeryong, according to the activist.

No information has emerged about what happened next to Park, who is of Korean descent. The communist country’s state-run media was silent. The State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said they were aware of the incident but had no details.

Park, from Tucson, Ariz., carried a letter to North Korean leader Kim calling for major changes to his totalitarian regime, according to the activist from Pax Koreana.

“Please open your borders so that we may bring food, provisions, medicine, necessities, and assistance to those who are struggling to survive,” said the letter, according to a copy posted on the conservative group’s Web site.

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