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Thursday, 27 June 2019

Australian Student Living In North Korea Arrested For Posting About His Life In The Secretive Country

A 29-year-old Australian student living in North Korea has reportedly been arrested after he took to social media to post about his life in the secretive country.

According to the ABC, Alek Sigley born to an Australian father and Chinese mother was reported missing by friends after a series of tweets about life in the capital of Pyongyang.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed an Australian man was detained in North Korea.

The Department of Foreign said: 'The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance, in accordance with the Consular Services Charter, to the family of an Australian man who has been reported as being detained in North Korea.

'The Department is urgently seeking clarification.'

Mr. Sigley's last social media post via his Twitter account was on 24th of June and was about the Ryugyong Hotel. The hotel building was left unfinished after construction was halted in 1992 when North Korea entered an economic crisis.
'New signage above the main entrance to the Ryugyong Hotel bearing its name and logo. A sign that it will soon be open for business?' Mr Sigley's post read.

Mr. Sigley is from Perth, Australia and has been studying Korean Literature at Kim Il Sung University since April 2018 and has also operated a tour company in the communist dictatorship, according to Daily Mail.
He has also been sharing rare glimpses inside the country, despite the strict rules around media.

The 29-year-old also posted numerous pictures of magazines, restaurants, and buildings including photos of himself in a North Korean football uniform last week.

In an editorial he wrote for The Guardian, he shared that as a long-term foreign resident on a student visa, he has free access to Pyongyang'.
'I'm free to wander around the city, without anyone accompanying me. Interaction with locals can be limited at times, but I can shop and dine almost anywhere I want.'

He later shared that he wrote the piece to show 'some of the human side of the country which others rarely get to see. 

In a previous interview with Sky News, he said he wasn't bothered about the North Korean government monitoring his social media posts because he knows what not to share on online.

'I've read up on all these cases in detail and it's part of my job as a tour guide to understand the culture,' he said.

'I've never felt threatened and this whole year has been a period of rapprochement.

'But, talking to students who were here last year when things were really bad and lots of threats were traded, it was totally life as normal.'

His family released a statement, which said they had not confirmed that Mr Sigley had been detained.

'The situation is that Alek has not been in digital contact with friends and family since Tuesday morning Australian time, which is unusual for him,' the statement to The Guardian read.

'Alek’s family hope to re-establish contact with him soon.'

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