Tourism

“I may never again walk the streets of Pyongyang”: Aussie tour guide responds to North Korean spy claims

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Australian tour guide Alek Sigley, who was freed last week from detention in Pyongyang, says claims he was spying on North Korea are “pretty obviously” false.

On Tuesday, Travel Weekly reported Sigley, 29, had been accused by North Korean state-media of committing “anti-DPRK incitement” by dispersing information to NK News, who it said was unsympathetic to the regime.

This came after he was reported missing on 25 June and later expelled from the country on 4 July following a Swedish envoy that Prime Minister Scott Morrison said raised the issue of Sigley’s disappearance to North Korean officials on Australia’s behalf.

Following allegations of spying on Pyongyang made against him, Sigley took to Twitter last night to respond.

“The allegation that I am a spy is (pretty obviously) false,” he said. “The only material I gave to NK News was what was published publicly on the blog, and the same goes for other media outlets.”

NK News, who published several of Sigley’s “invaluable” columns on life in North Korea, said in a statement that any claims Sigley’s columns were anti-state in nature was a misrepresentation.

Sigley, who was studying his master’s degree at Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung University, also said that he was still interested in continuing academic research in the country, but said he had no plans of visiting in the short-term. He also said that Tongil Tours, a company offering tours of North Korea that Sigley founded, would suspend all tours until further notice.

Sigley went on to say “the whole situation makes me very sad”, and said he believed he may never be able to visit the country again.

“I may never again walk the streets of Pyongyang, a city that holds a very special place in my heart,” he said. “I may never again see my teachers and my partners in the travel industry, whom I’ve come to consider close friends. But that’s life.”

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