The last bit of real news about recent North Korean detainee Robert Park (December 25th, 2009 to February 5th, 2010) was a gruesome tidbit included in a March 8th report in The National newspaper by the always reliable Sunny Lee. Up until that point, rumors of Park having suffered some sort of sexual abuse or torture had focused on speculation that the actions were of a homosexual nature, but Seoul-based attorney and activist Jo Sung-rae painted a very different, no less horrifying picture.
“A few women entered the room where Robert was held in North Korea. They touched, groped him … and a very humiliating, indescribable thing happened,” Jo claimed to Lee. “Robert told me that a very cruel sexual torture was carried out on him. He said North Korea is a regime more brutal than the Nazis.”
Other than this information, an aborted Washington D.C. press conference and some sporadic blogosphere reports about Park having obtained his own release from a Long Beach mental hospital, the 28-year-old Tucson, Arizona resident has essentially vanished into thin air, ensconced perhaps at his parents’ Southern California home of Encinitas. Although he is to be afforded all the time he needs to recover from the above and other unspoken traumas of his experience, there is an opportunity forthcoming that he should still consider taking advantage of.
On Tuesday, May 18th, the gripping new book Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home by Laura Ling and Lisa Ling hits bookstores, supported by media appearances @Oprah, @NPRFreshAir and elsewhere. Current TV is also jumping in with a special Vanguard Season Four debut episode on May 19th entitled “Captive in North Korea.” All of it adds up to an excellent time for Park to release a statement in support of the release of his friend and fellow evangelist, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who crossed into North Korea on January 25th, 2010 and was sentenced to eight years of hard labor.
Gomes may well be held at the moment at the same Pyongyang facility described at length in Somewhere Inside by Laura. Unless the North Koreans truly do have some sort of leverage to keep Park quiet, or that his silence is tied to sensitive back-channel Gomes negotiations, a brief show of support for the final American stuck in the Hermit Kingdom would be well-timed and most appreciated by the small group holding vigil for the 30-year-old Bostonian.