Missing Missionary Risks All for North Korea

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North Korea is one of the most repressive countries in the world for Christians, but that didn't stop a young American missionary from entering the county to bring attention to its notorious human rights record.

Days before crossing into the country, 28-year-old Robert Park told reporters he was willing to lay down his life to share the Gospel with North Koreans.

"I'm a Christian and in the Bible it says we must love the lost," Park said. "We must love the poor and the needy. We must love them more than ourselves."

"I'm willing to die for the sake of liberating North Korea," he continued. "Personally, it is gruesome and hard for me to think about being executed and beaten, but as a Christian I have to deny those feelings."

Park was arrested at the North Korean border and his fate is now unknown.

Click play for George Thomas' report followed by comments from Carl Moeller of Open Doors USA.  

CBN News also spoke with Suzanne Scholte of the North Korea Freedom Coalition about Park's passion for North Korea.  Click here to watch.

On Christmas eve, he entered the country by crossing the frozen Tumen River from China. He was carrying with him a lengthy letter for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il urging him to accept God's love and to step down from power.

Park said he was doing this to raise global attention about the suffering of the North Korean people.

"A nation that runs concentration camps, a nation that kills men, women and children without any kind of restraint can never be trusted," he said.

There are an estimated 200,000 political prisoners languishing in large concentration camps. Thousands of them are reportedly Christians and 30,000 North Koreans are believed to be practicing Christianity in hiding.

According to eye witnesses, Park was carrying a Bible and shouting, "God Loves You" and "God Bless You" as he made the crossing. He was immediately detained by North Korean guards.

"Proclaiming Christianity is a direct attack on the Kim Jong-il regime, because everyone in North Korea is raised to worship Kim Jong-il," explained Suzanne Scholte of the North Korea Freedom Coalition. "Kim Jong-il is their God and Christianity is condemned and can result in being executed."

Park told Reuters that he didn't want the U.S. government to get him out until the North Korean people are free.

"My demand is that I do not want to be released. I do not want President Obama to come and try to pay for me to come out," he said. "But I want the North Korean people to be free. The concentration camps must be liberated. Until they are liberated, I don't want to come out."

In Seoul, South Korea, and in his home town of Tucson, Ariz., family and friends held prayer vigils for him. Many of those who have watched his interview online admire him for his courage and passion.

"He is really an amazing man of God and has a compassionate heart," said Park's friend, Maggie Drabing. "And he really loves people and really loves God."

Park can only hope and pray for compassion from North Korean authorities. Crossing illegally into the country carries a three-year prison term.

Some activists fear he could be accused of trying to use Christianity to undermine the regime-- a crime that carries the death penalty.

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