Korean-American Activist Sexually Abused in North

Robert Park Robert Park

The Korean-American evangelical activist was apparently taken to a mental hospital for the effects of torture he suffered in North Korea but has recently been released. He was freed 43 days after he crossed the frozen Duman (or Tumen) River from China on Christmas Eve.

Park's spiritual mentor the Rev. Jon Benson in an interview with VOA on March 4 said that Park shows symptoms of anxiety and panic disorder and has trouble breathing to the point of being unable to communicate. Parents and friends took him to hospital in California on Feb. 27, Benson added.

Jo Sung-rae, the president of Pax Koreana, a civic group, who worked with Park in South Korea to raise awareness about human rights in the North, confirmed that Park was hospitalized in California. "After being taken to Pyongyang, Robert went through indescribably hideous sexual abuse. He called the North Korean regime more wicked than the Nazis."

Park was arrested after voluntarily crossing the frozen Duman River to urge North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to improve human rights in the North. He was released on Feb. 6.

Right before his release, Park in an apparently scripted interview with the North's official KCNA news agency said that the country respects the rights of all the people and guarantees their freedom." A North Korean source said Park was severely beaten by North Korean guards when they arrested him.

Benson told VOA Park currently has communication problems due to anxiety caused by post-traumatic stress disorder.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 08, 2010 08:58 KST