Voice of America (VOA) has reported that the wife of Pastor Kim Kook-ki, who was arrested and detained in North Korea for eight years during his missionary work, has publicly released a letter she wrote to her husband. This is the first time Pastor Kim's family has spoken to the media, according to VOA on Friday.
In the letter, Kim Hee-soon expressed her heartbreaking longings to her husband, urging him to “stay strong” and expressing her wishes to celebrate his 70th birthday together this year. She also expressed concern about his health and hoped to confirm that he is still alive. Furthermore, she stated that people around the world are praying for his safe release and that he is not alone in his struggle.
Kim Kook-ki, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in Korea, was sent to Dandong, Liaoning Province, China, a border area with North Korea, for missionary works in 2003. Before this, he had been caring for socially disadvantaged people such as homeless people in South Korea. He is known to have operated a "North Korean refugee shelter" for defectors and Kotjebi, a term referring to homeless children in the North. He also engaged in missionary work by sending medicine and farming equipment to North Korea. In 2015, he was arrested by North Korean authorities and sentenced to hard labor for life on charges of espionage and attempting to overthrow the state.
According to a source close to Pastor Kim's family, Voice of America reported that South Korean Minister of Unification Kwon Young-se met with the families of detainees on Tuesday to offer comfort and the U.S. Department of the State also expressed interest in the release of Pastor Kim. This gesture apparently gave Kim Hee-soon, Pastor Kim's wife, renewed courage. In January, the Department of State included Pastor Kim in its global campaign to release political prisoners, urging everyone to join the call for his release and that of other political prisoners.
Six Koreans, including Pastor Kim, Kim Jung-wook, Choi Chun-gil, and North Korean defectors, remain in detention in North Korea.
Na-Ri Shin firstname.lastname@example.org