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Australian missionary, 75, detained in N. Korea: report

SYDNEY -- A 75-year-old Australian missionary has been detained in North Korea for allegedly distributing religious material, a report said on Wednesday citing his wife.

John Short was arrested by Pyongyang's public security bureau on Sunday, Karen Short told the Adelaide Advertiser. He reportedly entered the country on Saturday as part of a tour group.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs said they were aware of the case.

“We're Christians and we've been here (in Asia) for 40 years,” Karen Short told the newspaper from her home in Hong Kong.

“He's a frontline man — this is what he does. But North Korea is very different, that's why his heart was to go there.

“I'm asking people to pray for him,” Short said.

Since his arrest Short, originally from Adelaide, has faced questioning in Pyongyang about religious pamphlets printed in the Korean language and believed to be in his possession, the report said.

“The government is aware that a 75-year-old Australian man, Mr. John Short, is reported to have been detained in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,” an Australian foreign affairs spokesman said.

Canberra has no diplomatic presence in North Korea with the Swedish embassy representing its interests.

“We are in close contact with Swedish officials in Pyongyang to seek their assistance in confirming the well-being of Mr. Short and to obtain more information,” the spokesman added.

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Karen Short, wife of Australian missionary John Short, poses with a photo of her husband inside the Christian Book Room in Hong Kong on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

(AP)

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