Published: Thu, July 04, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Australia welcomes help to find man missing in North Korea

Australia welcomes help to find man missing in North Korea

Yuka Morinaga, 26, said she usually speaks or exchanges messages with husband Alek Sigley on WhatsApp, News Corp reported.

"We don't know what's happened", Morinaga said. United States college student Otto Warmbier was imprisoned back in 2016 for allegedly taking a propaganda poster during his visit to the country.

In a blog named From Perth to Pyongyang, Sigley said his father was an Australian "Anglo-Aussie sinologist" and his mother was Chinese - she spent a "tumultuous youth during the Cultural Revolution", he wrote.

Officials said they were in contact with the family of the man "who has been reported as being detained in North Korea".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the plight of Alek Sigley had been raised with him by world leaders attending the meetings in Osaka, Japan, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Sigley first moved to North Korea in 2018 and is fluent in Mandarin and Korean, the Journal noted.

He is understood to be studying Korean literature at the Kim II Sung University and runs a travel company out of Pyongyang called Tongil Tours.

Mr Sigley has been pursuing a master's degree in North Korean literature at Kim ll-sung University in Pyongyang.

"He remains out of digital contact with friends and family, and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade continues to seek clarification as to his whereabouts and welfare", a family statement said.

Alek Sigley has reportedly been detained by North Korean authorities.

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She continued: "We learn and grow from them, we don't divert blame and blur the lines of reality to suit our needs. What you haven't seen is what happens behind closed doors, when he has supported and stood up for you".

"This particular jurisdiction, most Australians' common sense would tell them, makes this a matter of the utmost seriousness", Porter said.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs is now seeking confirmation on the whereabouts and well-being of 29-year-old citizen Alek Sigley, who studies literature and runs a tour company in Pyongyang, North Korea, ABC News reported.

Sigley has frequently shared photos he took in North Korea through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The reports revealed that the Australian man was arrested but his family can not confirm that story since they have not received any information from country officials.

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Steering clear of politics, Sigley's Twitter feed includes regular pictures of his everyday life from eating pizza to visiting the zoo and hanging out with friends.

He has traveled to North Korea several times since 2014, the statement said.

Australia does not have a diplomatic mission of its own in North Korea, but consular assistance can be provided to the country's nationals by the Swedish embassy on a limited basis. The 29-year-old man was arrested, according to various media reports.

He also maintains a high profile on social media, where he has been largely upbeat about his experiences in North Korea.

American university student Otto Warmbier died in June 2017, less than a week after Pyongyang sent him home in a coma.

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