- (Photo: Reuters/KCNA)
North Korea has released a Californian businessman who had been imprisoned since November 2010 under charges of proselytizing.
Official reports from the Korean Central News Agency has said that Jun Young-su, 60, of Orange County, Ca. was released on humanitarian grounds. The reports stated: “The investigation proved that Jun committed a serious crime … which he frankly admitted himself.”
Pyongyang did not report under precisely what charges it was holding Jun under, however it is understood that he was accused of attempting to spread Christianity in North Korea.
Visiting U.S. delegates had called for Jun’s immediate release, with the calls climaxing with the visit of Robert King, the U.S. envoy for North Korean Human Rights. He was successful in overseeing the final details of Jun’s release and escorted him out of the country.
Other high profile names to add their weight to calls for Jun’s release were former U.S. President Carter, and the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham.
The news of Jun’s release has been greeted by an overwhelming sense of relief and joy. However, calls remain ongoing for the end of religious persecution in North Korea.
Sam Kim, the executive director of the Korean Church Coalition (KCC), an NGO advocating for human rights on behalf of North Koreans, has released a statement greeting the release. He said, “We are delighted that Missionary Young Su Jun has been released from North Korean Captivity.
“However, while we are thankful for Missionary Jun’s release, there are millions who are still living in North Korea and there can never be peace on the Korean Peninsula when half of Korea remains in bondage, in darkness and under religious persecution.”
Kim emphasized that “no person should be arrested for simply exercising his religious beliefs”.