NORTH KOREA - HONG KONG - Christian missionary arrested in Pyongyang for distributing "religious material" [AN]

John Short, a 75-year-old Australian, has lived in Hong Kong for about 50 years. His wife does not know “where he is and what he has been charged with”. However, he “is not reckless,” but simply “cares for people that live in such difficult circumstances.”


Wow, they certainly have “separation of church and state” over there… :frowning:

Anyone who travels to North Korea as a tourist takes a risk of not being able to leave. Anyone who travels to North Korea with religious materials is quite likely to be taken into custody. This is a regime which does not tolerate religion or dissent or anything but the party line.

He knew what he was risking. Quoting from his wife, as quoted in the news article:

“This is out of the ordinary but we’re Christian missionaries so my husband knew what he was going into,” she said. “Ultimately we are in God’s hands and we totally believe that.”

I suppose as a matter of protest a whole busload of missionaries might enter N. Korea as tourists, and break out their bibles and religious materials once they got there. They would all be thrown in jail, of course, but a whole busload of religious prisoners might produce more of an international outcry than one missionary. It would, of course, have zero effect on North Korean policy.

Please join me in praying for the repose of the soul of Francis Hong Yong-ho, who was the last bishop of Pyongyang but was imprisoned and disappeared in 1949. His death was only acknowledged by the Holy See last year.

I think anyone who decides to go in to North Korea to proselytize has to know the risks and take responsibility for them, and not expect the US or some other group or individual to come to the rescue. Sad as it is, some countries are on the “do not travel” list for a reason - including North Korea.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit