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North Korea Just Released the Australian Student Who Went Missing Last Week

"I'm OK, I'm OK, yeah. I'm good. I'm very good ... I'm great."

by David Gilbert
Jul 4 2019, 10:40am

An Australian student who disappeared in Pyongyang last week has mysteriously reappeared in Beijing, without any explanation about why North Korea detained him or why he was released.

Alex Sigley, 29, was filmed walking through Beijing airport after arriving there on Thursday.

When asked by reporters how he was feeling, responded: "I'm OK, I'm OK, yeah. I'm good. I'm very good ... I'm great."

But when he was asked what had happened in Pyongyang, he cryptically replied: “Aah.”

The 29-year-old student mysteriously disappeared on Tuesday, June 25 and had not been in contact with his family for over a week.

Sigley, originally from Perth, was released in part because of behind-the-scenes work conducted by officials from the Swedish government who made representations on behalf of the Australian. Sweden is one of the few Western countries that have an embassy in North Korea.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was the first to reveal Sigley was OK.

“Alek is safe and well,” he said earlier on Thursday. “The Swedish have advised the Australian government that they met with senior officials from [North Korea] yesterday and raised the issue of Alek's disappearance on Australia's behalf,” Morrison told the federal parliament.

Neither Morrison nor the Swedish authorities revealed if North Korea had been promised anything in return for Sigley’s release. It is also unknown where Singlet was held and in what conditions, what physical shape he's in or how he got to Beijing.

"Last week has been very difficult,” Sigley’s father Gary told local media outside his house in Perth. “We're just happy that the situation has been resolved. He tried to ring me a few minutes ago, I will talk to him sometime today.”

Sigley was taken to the Australian Embassy in Beijing and is expected to travel to Japan, where his wife lives.

Sigley was one of the few foreigners living full time in Pyongyang. He is studying for a Masters in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University and operates a North Korean tour company called Tongil Tours.

The 29-year-old had actively promoted closer ties between the closed-off world of North Korean and the western world, using his social media accounts to document his travels and experiences extensively.

His lack of activity on his social channels was among the early indicators that Sigley had been detained.

Cover: Australian student Alek Sigley gestures as he arrives at the airport in Beijing on Thursday, July 4, 2019. The Australian student who vanished in North Korea more than a week ago arrived in Beijing on Thursday morning (AP Photo/Emily Wang)

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