Wife of Australian missing in North Korea voices concern

Alek Sigley's disappearance comes at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea and as world leaders gather in Osaka, Japan for a G-20 summit.
Alek Sigley's disappearance comes at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea and as world leaders gather in Osaka, Japan for a G-20 summit.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SYDNEY (AFP) - The wife of an Australian man who has gone missing and is feared detained in North Korea said she had no hint that anything was wrong before his disappearance.

Japanese Yuka Morinaga, 26, told Australia's News Corp that Mr Alek Sigley's disappearance in Pyongyang was "very concerning" and there was not "anything weird" the last time they spoke on Monday (June 24).

Mr Sigley, who speaks fluent Korean and is one of only a handful of Western students living in Pyongyang, has not been heard from since Tuesday.

His family said on Friday that they had no news about whether he has been detained.

The 29-year-old's social media sites - which usually have a stream of apolitical content about everyday life in one of the world's most secretive nations - have fallen silent since Tuesday.

"He is always trying to demystify North Korea, unlike the typical Western media. He tries to understand the people there," Ms Morinaga said.

The pair married at an elaborate ceremony in Pyongyang last year.

 

Ms Morinaga is a software developer living in Tokyo and usually communicates with her husband daily via WhatsApp, News Corp said.

Mr Sigley's disappearance comes at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea and as world leaders gather in Osaka, Japan for a G-20 summit.

Speaking at the summit, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had received "expressions of support and assistance" from other nations, which had been "very welcome".

"We will continue to focus very sharply on that and seek to clarify what exactly has occurred and then take steps from there," he told national broadcaster ABC.

Mr Morrison on Thursday met US President Donald Trump, who will travel to South Korea later this week as talks with North Korea have stalled.

Mr Sigley, from Perth in Western Australia, had been studying Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University for around a year, while running a company specialising in tours of North Korea.