Authorities arrest South Korean missionary pastor for 'espionage'

After a North Korean state news agency announced last week that the country was holding two South Korean men accused of espionage, the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea, a Seoul-based Protestant association, identified Kim Kuk Gi last Friday as one of their own registered pastors and demanded that he be released

One of the two men whom North Korea identified as being South Korean (R) and accused of being a spy for South Korea attends a news conference in Pyongyang, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 26, 2015. North Korea said late on Thursday it had arrested two South Koreans based in the Chinese border city of Dandong, accusing them of spying for South Korea. The North's official KCNA news agency showed images of two middle-aged men it identified as Kim Kuk Gi and Choe Chun Gil speaking at a news conference in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

One of the two South Korean men that were detained late 2014 by the North Korean government on charges of espionage has been identified as a Presbyterian pastor who has dedicated much of the last 13 years to missionary work benefiting North Korean defectors in China.

Christian Post reports that after a North Korean state news agency announced last week that the country was holding two South Korean men accused of espionage, the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea, a Seoul-based Protestant association, identified Kim Kuk Gi last Friday as one of their own registered pastors and demanded that he be released.

"He was carrying out missionary works for North Korean defectors in [the Chinese port city of] Dandong," a representative from the Presbyterian assembly told Voice of America News.

"He bought noodle makers and tofu machines to send to the North, as well as sewing machines".

The other South Korean detainee has been identified as Choe Chun Gil. South Korean authorities tried to deliver a written request for the two men to be released, however, North Korean officials refused to accept the request.

The North Korean official media agency, Korean Central News Agency, reported that both detainees were taken into custody because they have been accused of working for Seoul's National Intelligence Service in Dandong on "smear campaign" against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"They zealously took part in the anti-DPRK smear campaign of the U.S. imperialists and the puppet group of traitors to isolate and blockade the DPRK in [the] international arena by labeling it 'a country printing counterfeit notes' and 'sponsor of terrorism' while pulling it over its human rights issue," KCNA reported.

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