More than three months after Robert Park walked into North Korea to "proclaim Christ's love and forgiveness" to Kim Jong Il and draw attention to human rights abuses, details of the Arizona missionary's 43-day captivity remain a mystery.
In a Reuters interview prior to his Christmas Day mission, the 28-year-old Korean-American spoke of how his Christian faith motivated him to draw attention to the Communist nation, long at the top of religious persecution and human rights watchlists.
"I do not want to be released. Until the concentration camps are liberated, I do not want to come out," Park told Reuters. "The Cross means that we sacrifice our lives for the redemption of others."
North Korea holds an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 prisoners for political and religious reasons, according to the U.S. State Department's 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom.
Prior to his February release, the government-controlled Korean Central News Agency published an interview with Park, in which he stated: "What I have seen and heard in the dppk [North Korea] convinced me that I misunderstood it. So I seriously repented of the wrong I committed, taken in by the West's false propaganda."
Speculation remains on whether Park made the statement voluntarily. Since arriving in Los Angeles on February 6, he has been silent.
Attempts to reach Park at his parents' home in Encinitas, California, were unsuccessful. Park's father, Pyong, said his son would issue a statement in the weeks following his release, but no statement was made and press conferences were canceled.
In March, Tuscon's KOLD reported that Park had been receiving psychiatric care at a hospital. According to the website Free Robert Park, Park had a March 5 competency hearing in Los ...1