Mission life: THE KUKMIN DAILY

Requesting Prayers for Release of Two Clergy Detained in China

2017-09-06 16:09

“Recently the children seem to be missing their father more. It makes my heart ache.”

Lee Na-ok (41)’s voice over the phone was despondent. In the middle of last February, she, her husband On Seong-do (41) and their nine-year-old twin son and daughter had completed check-in procedures for departure from Qingdao Airport in Shandong Province, China, and were waiting to get on their plane to Korea, when missionary On was arrested by security police. The next day, retired pastor Lee Byeong-gi (66) and his wife were detained as well, at the hotel where they were staying in China.

After about a week, with the two men still captive, their families were freed and allowed to return home. Since then, for more than six months, missionary On and Rev. Lee have been awaiting trial at the detention center in Benxi city, Liaoning Province. The crime of which they are accused by the Chinese authorities is “organizing others’ illegal migration.”

Missionary On’s wife Lee Na-ok said, however, “My husband simply gave humanitarian help to North Korean defectors, based on his Christian faith.” Rev. Lee, retired last year from his church post, also had met with North Korean defectors in the course of his local ministry in China, and was preparing to return to Korea when he was arrested. The analysis in some quarters is that China’s retaliation against Korea’s stationing of the THAAD (terminal high altitude area defense) system may be influencing this case, too, slowing down the process of the two men’s release.

At the end of March this year, the families of missionary On and Rev. Lee held a news conference at the Seoul Press Center, where they urged the government, “Do your best to attain the release of your fellow countrymen.” Presently the Foreign Ministry, working through the local Korean Consulate in China, is meeting with On and Lee and keeping their families informed about their situation. On August 31, Lee Na-ok appealed to Korean churches and believers, “Following North Korea’s recent release of Rev. Im Hyeon-soo, please join your hearts in the prayer that these two persons likewise will be released and return home safely.”

* Missionary On Seong-do (center) with his twin daughter and son. The photo was taken February 17 in Qingdao, China, a few days before On was detained by Chinese security. (Photo provided by missionary On’s wife, Lee Na-ok)

Reporter Jaechan Park (jeep@kmib.co.kr), with Marion Kim (marionkkim@icloud.com)

Original Article in Korean:
中에 수감 중인 두 목회자, 임현수 목사처럼 풀려나도록…: 온성도 선교사·이병기 목사, 탈북자 돕다 공안에 체포돼… 반년 넘게 구치소서 재판 기다려

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