Robert and Linda Shank, Church of the Brethren staff in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), were free to leave as scheduled for a Christmas break, reports mission executive Jay Wittmeyer.
Many worried that the death of Kim Jong-il would cause political instability with repercussions for the Shanks and other expatriates in the country, but there were no difficulties.
The Shanks heard about the death of Kim Jong-il through a CNN broadcast, which they saw on the campus of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology where Robert is dean of the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Linda teaches English. This news was then shared with PUST staff and students.
When the Shanks arrived in Beijing, their plane was met by a throng of Chinese reporters wanting to hear details of events in Pyongyang since Kim’s death. The Shanks arrived in Chicago Tuesday afternoon.
The Elgin (Ill.) “Courier-News” yesterday ran an interview with Howard Royer, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund, about the Shanks’ work at PUST and prospects for N. Korea now. Royer has been one of the denominational staff responsible for Church of the Brethren connections in North Korea. Go to http://couriernews.suntimes.com/news/9670253-418/elgin-church-volunteers-return-from-north-korea-without-hassle-after-leaders-death.html .
— Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press and communications for the Church of the Brethren, contributed to this report.