Select Page


News of an Australian man arrested in North Korea while on a tour has come as a great shock to the international Christian community.

Seventy Five-year-old John Short, a Hong Kong based missionary, was arrested in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea on Sunday 16 February for having in his possession Christian tracts in the Korean language. On Sunday night, the police came to find Mr Short at his hotel. They questioned him and then detained him. Mr Short was in possession of some Gospel tracts in the Korean language which seem to be at the focal point of the detention. It is alleged he is being asked questions such as, “Who sent you?”, “To what organisation do you belong?”, “Who translated this material into Korean?”

On Tuesday 18 February another member of the tour group was able to return to China. From there he called Mrs Short in Hong Kong with the information that her husband had been detained. He has been about the only source of information.

The tour company claims the North Korean officials are refusing to take their calls.

His wife Karen Short told us “I’m not upset, we’re Christian missionaries and we have tremendous support for what we do. He won’t be intimidated by the Communists!” This is the second time that John has visited North Korea and on his first visit he had been transparent about his faith and had openly read his Bible in front of government guides when in Pyongyang. “He’s courageous, this is my husband’s character.” Mrs Short said. “I hope things get better…. He is in God’s hands, we both totally believe that.”

North Korea is ranked as one of the world’s most oppressive regimes in terms of freedom of religion. Diplomatic tensions following the release of the United Nations commission of enquiry on Human Rights in North Korea released last week could make the situation more difficult. In the UN report they have exposed the lack of religious freedom in the state whose human rights abuses have been likened to those of Nazi Germany. Possessing a Bible, saying the words “God” or “Jesus”, and meeting with other Christians all are punishable by death.

The American missionary Kenneth Bae who has been held in custody for nearly 15 months was sentenced by a North Korean court to 15 years hard labour. He was convicted of trying to overthrow the state and the efforts by Washington to secure his release have not been successful.

Mrs Short says the Australian government is doing everything possible to help. The Foreign Affairs Department says“This is an out-of-the-ordinary case for us.” An Australian Embassy spokesman in Seoul said. “We are in close contact with Swedish officials in Pyongyang to seek their assistance in confirming Mr Short’s well-being and to obtain further information”

The charges that are laid against her husband are very serious, Mrs Short has been told.

Mr Short went to North Korea “Because it is such a dark and difficult place. Being a Christian missionary he wants to see empathy for the people there.” said Mrs Short.

Prayer Points

  • As we express our concern for Mr Short, let us also take time to pray for his wife, Karen, as she feels the heat and burden of the day and comes to terms with the situation. Please pray that God will give her strength and wisdom for every task.
  • Pray for Mr Short to be strengthened and protected by God as he faces his daily challenges.
  • Pray that his evangelical witness will always be strong to his captors.
  • Pray that God will intervene to release him home safely.

How else can I help?Tell others! Please share this email with your friends, pastor, congregation and others to encourage them to pray. Post any of this information onto Facebook, Twitter.

Visit to find out how you can pray for, comfort and write to those in prison for their faith.