North Korea has decided to deport a detained missionary from Australia after he "deeply apologized for criminal acts," the North's official media said Monday.
John Alexander Short from Australia was arrested last month for allegedly committing religious acts against the communist country after entering the nation as a tourist, according to the North's Korea Central News Agency.
"The relevant organ decided to expel him from the territory of the DPRK ... in full consideration of his age," the KCNA said in an English dispatch.
The DPRK, or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is North Korea's official name.
The 75-year-old missionary allegedly distributed Bible tracts at a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang on Feb. 16, the birthday of the North's former leader Kim Jong-il, the report said.
"He admitted that his activities were criminal acts hurting the Korean people's absolute trust in their leader ... and deeply apologized for what he had done," the state media said.
"I now realize the seriousness of my insult to the Korean people on February 16th because I made the Korean people angry and for this I truly apologize ... I request the forgiveness of the DPRK for my actions," Short said in an apology allegedly written by himself and published by the KCNA.
"I realize that the mass media of the United States and the western countries who say that the DPRK is the closed country and has no religious freedoms is inaccurate and wrong."
In December, the communist North deported Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old U.S. citizen some 42 days after taking him into custody for alleged "hostile acts" against the North.
The reclusive regime has held Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary, in custody for more than a year, and South Korean missionary Kim Jong-uk since November.
"The North has shown a negative response to our call for Kim's immediate release, but we are exploring diverse options to secure his return," Seoul's Unification Ministry spokesperson Kim Eui-do said.
Last week, Pyongyang refused to accept Seoul's demand for Kim's release, and has remained mum on the issue since. (Yonhap)