After 43 Days in N. Korea Prison, a Ruined Man

One year later, Robert Park still struggles
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2011 9:21 AM CST
After 43 Days in N. Korea Prison, a Ruined Man
American missionary Robert Park is seen inside a vehicle after arriving at the Beijing Capital Airport, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

(Newser) – On Christmas Day 2009, Robert Park crossed into North Korea, shouting "South Korea and America love you." After spending 43 days in detention, he was released. That was one year ago, but his ordeal is far from over, reports the Washington Post. The Christian missionary says he lost his mental health in the country: He stutters. Prays compulsively. Hasn't gotten a haircut, for fear of being touched. Has tried to commit suicide. Believes North Korean agents will kill him. But still Park, who says he was tortured and sexually abused while imprisoned, chose to leave a psychiatric hospital in Tucson and moved to Seoul, where he speaks about North Korean issues in as many churches as he can.

The Post reports on good days, Park is so articulate that his friends think he'll one day be able to testify before Congress. He presents slideshows filled with photos of malnourished children, and illustrations of firing squads. He uses the word "genocide." But he does not want others to do as he did. Says Park, "I just hoped that this could galvanize people to action. Because this is a society that needs change now. Honestly this is my only reason to live—to support the North Korean people." (Read more Robert Park stories.)

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