BEIJING – North Korea today deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity in the country, saying he apologized for his anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness.
Authorities in North Korea had arrested John Short for secretly spreading Bible tracts near a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang on Feb. 16, the birthday of late leader Kim Jong Il, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.
The report said Short, 75, admitted he committed a crime that hurt the Korean people’s trust in their leaders and he apologized for his behavior.
KCNA said North Korea decided to expel him in part out of consideration for his age. Short arrived later today on a flight to Beijing, where he was escorted to a vehicle from the Australian Embassy.
North Korea typically frees foreign detainees after they’ve admitted their crimes, but many say after their releases that their confessions were given involuntarily.
North Korea has been holding a Korean-American missionary, Kenneth Bae, since November 2012. Bae, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for hostile acts, held a similar news conference apology.