An Australian man studying at Kim Il-Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea, is reportedly missing, and the Australian government is seeking “urgent clarification” about his whereabouts and well-being.
“The wife of Australian Alek Sigley, whom is believed missing in North Korea, says she is ‘very concerned,'” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
It has been confirmed that Sigley has been detained, but no more details have been provided. His family became worried after they lost contact with him after Tuesday.
Sigley has been studying in North Korea for two years, and wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian last year defending the public persona of the so-called Hermit Kingdom.
“I have nearly unprecedented 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 said in the piece.
“He is always trying to demystify North Korea unlike the typical Western media. He tries to understand the people there,” Sigley’s wife said of him.
Australia’s South Korean embassy has reportedly reached out to North Korea in an attempt to clarify the situation.
The situation is eerily similar to that of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who was studying abroad in North Korea in 2016 and was arrested, allegedly for stealing a North Korean propaganda poster. He was imprisoned and returned to the United States in 2017 in a vegetative state. He died shortly thereafter.
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