Former Prisoner in North Korea Speaks Out on VOM Radio


Date:                         March 16, 2016

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service, who has reported from North Korea

Short reads his confession in North KoreaBARTLESVILLE, OK (ANS – March 16, 2016) -- John Short didn’t know it was the birthday of Kim Jong-il, the then leader of North Korea. He did, however, know that his calling from God was to share the gospel.

The 75-year-old Australian was part of a tour group inside North Korea early in 2014 when he was detained after leaving gospel tracts outside a Buddhist temple on the final day of their tour itinerary. When they arrived at the Buddhist temple on the morning of February 16, their “minders” were terribly embarrassed to find the temple had been vandalized; the door had been broken and the statue of Buddha was turned on its side.

According to a story from Voice of the Martyrs (, made available to ANS, Short used the confusion to wander away slightly from the temple and deposit gospel tracts where he hoped they’d be found later by local North Koreans. Instead, they were found by authorities. The next morning, instead of being allowed to go to the airport and fly back to Beijing, Short was detained by secret police.

Short shared his extraordinary story with Todd Nettleton, Director of Media and Public Relations for The Voice of the Martyrs and host of VOM Radio, on this week’s episode of The Voice of the Martyrs Radio.

In it, Short revealed that he was held for two weeks, interrogated for hours every morning and afternoon and finally forced to write out a “confession” of his “crimes” against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Short freely admitted that he’d brought gospel materials with him into North Korea. He freely admitted that he did in fact want as many North Koreans as possible to follow Jesus Christ. The third crime he was accused of, though, he denied: intentionally embarrassing the North Korean government by distributing tracts on the anniversary of the birth of Kim Jong Il, the previous leader of that nation.

“I would not acknowledge that this had been done on his birthday with intent to insult,” Short told Nettleton in the interview. “There was no political motive at all.”

In many ways, Short was uniquely prepared to face arrest and persecution. He has spent five decades working with the church in China, where he’s had the chance to know bold Christian leaders who spent decades in jail.

Upon his detention, Short remembered three lessons his close friend and personal hero, Allen Yuan, had learned during his 20+ years in Chinese prisons. Those lessons—which Short recounts in the VOM Radio episode—guided the way Short responded to his captors, and even helped him gain back a measure of control that confounded his North Korean interrogators.

One of the things Short is most thankful for is that he was allowed to keep his Bible with him during his captivity. He even saw the time of being locked up as an answer to prayer: “Thankfully on all those occasions where I wanted to have more time to read the Word of God was suddenly granted to me,” he said. “I could read Romans and John’s gospel and entire books of the Word of God. Just read and read and read for my life, for my spiritual life.”

You can listen to the complete VOM Radio interview with John Short by going to:

Todd mugshot“Mr. Short has kept a low profile since his release, accepting only two media interview requests,” said Todd Nettleton. “The first was with his home town Australian newspaper, and the second was with VOM Radio. He will continue sharing his story in next week’s episode of VOM Radio.”

The Voice of the Martyrs Radio is a half-hour weekly radio program heard on more than 225 radio stations across the US, as well as online at and as a podcast. The program was recognized in February by the National Religious Broadcasters as Radio Program of the Year.

About Todd Nettleton: He is the Director of Media and Public Relations for The Voice of the Martyrs and host of VOM Radio. Todd serves as a voice for persecuted Christians, working with the media to tell people in the United States about the faithfulness of Christ’s followers in 60+ nations where they face persecution for wearing His name. During 17 years of service at VOM, Todd has travelled the world to interview hundreds of Christians who’ve endured persecution in more than 20 nations. He has been interviewed more than 2,250 times by various media outlets, including CNN, The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, the BBC, Moody Broadcast Network, Christian Broadcasting Network, Newsweek, The Voice of America, Mission Network News and Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Photo captions: 1) Australian John Short reads his letter of confession in a still image captured from North Korean state television. 2) Todd Nettleton, host of VOM Radio. 3) Dan Wooding at the DMZ in North Korea with Michael Little of CBN, taken during a visit there with a Christian delegation.

Dan Wooding in North Korea with soldier and Michael LittleAbout the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is also the author of some 45 books. He is one of the few Christian journalists ever allowed to report from inside of North Korea.

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