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Alek Sigley found: Australian tour guide released from North Korea

Alek Sigley, an Australian tour guide and student living in North Korea, who has been missing for more than a week, has been confirmed “safe and well” by PM Scott Morrison.

Last week, Travel Weekly reported that Australian tour guide and student Alex Sigley was missing in North Korea.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday revealed Sigley has left detention in North Korea and arrived safely in China. “I’m OK, I’m OK, yeah. I’m good. I’m very good,” Sigley told reporters waiting for him at an airport in Beijing.

Speaking in Perth, his father, Gary Sigley, told The Guardian the family were “over the moon” that the situation had been resolved, and he understood his son had been “in constant good spirits and well the whole time”.

Speaking in Parliament Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that Sigley had been released from detention in North Korea and had arrived in China.

In a joint media statement from Morrison and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, it was confirmed that Swedish authorities had advised the Australian Government that they met with senior officials from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Wednesday, and raised the issue of Sigley’s disappearance on Australia’s behalf.

“Earlier this morning we were advised that the DPRK had released Alek from detention, and he has now safely left the country,” the statement reads. “On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Swedish authorities for their invaluable assistance in securing Alek’s prompt release.

“This outcome demonstrates the value of the discreet, behind the scenes work of officials in resolving complex and sensitive consular cases, in close partnership with other governments.

“We couldn’t be more pleased that we not only know where Alek is, but that he is safe.”

Sigley was expected to travel to Tokyo, where his wife Yuka Morinaga lives, later on Thursday, as reported by The Guardian. 

On Wednesday, Payne confirmed that the Australian Government had asked the Swedish special envoy visiting North Korea to raise the issue of Sigley’s whereabouts on Australia’s behalf.

This came after the Minister for Trade Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham told RN Breakfast that the government was seeking clarification about his whereabouts.

Smartraveller currently advises travellers against visiting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, owing to the country’s “very different laws and regulations affecting foreign visitors” and “the risks from intermittent DPRK threats against international interests.”

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