Alek Sigley is an Australian national studying master’s degree in Sung University North Korea who was detained by the Korean government on June 25, 2019, he was released on July 4. Alek is believed to be the only Australian living in North Korea, he has been a resident of Pyongyang since early 2018.
Alek is 29 years old.
His father is an Australian “Anglo-Aussie sinologist” and his mother is Chinese.
Alek Sigley Wife
Alek married his wife Yuka Morinaga in 2018 in North Kore. On his blog he wrote; “A Chinese-Australian man and a Japanese woman have their wedding in North Korea. My existence alone causes much confusion and I apologise if it has caused you any.”
Alek Sigley North Korea
Alek is a student studying masters degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University and runs a tour company that organises trips for foreign students in North Korea.
He received a New Colombo scholarship to study at Sogang University in South Korea in 2016 becoming the first Australian to study in Pyongyang.
Alek Sigley Blog
Alek operates an Australia-based tour operator, Tongil Tours which specialises in educational tourism to North Korea. His last blog post was on the company’s website was on June 20, where he talked about visiting restaurants in Pyongyang with other foreign students.
On his website he said he would not discuss topics that may get him into trouble; ‘Please note that because of my studies and work in-country I generally steer clear of politically sensitive issues in my blog. At any rate, I’m not particularly interested in saying what has already been said a thousand times before about North Korea. In my blog, I aim simply to present life in North Korea as I see and experience it.’
Alek Sigley Disappearance
Alek Sigley went missing on 25th June 2019. His family said they had not been in contact with him since Tuesday and they had not received confirmation that he has been arrested by the North Korean government. His family released a statement saying he had been out of contact for 48 hours.
“As of 1 pm AEST it has not been confirmed that Alek has been detained in the DPRK. The situation is that Alek has not been in digital contact with friends and family since Tuesday morning Australian time, which is unusual for him. Alek is an Australian-born Asian scholar and traveller who has visited, studied and lived in several countries in Asia. Alek can speak Mandarin and Korean fluently, as well as some Japanese. Alek’s family hope to re-establish contact with him soon.”
One of his friend’s Leonid Petrov, an North Korea expert from the Australian National University said he last spoke to him three days ago and had not heard from him since then. He, however, told the Guardian Australia that his Skype was active, as he can see the green light, but he doesn’t respond to messages.
On Thursday reports emerged that he had been arrested by the North Korean government although his charges were unknown. The finance minister, Mathias Cormann, said the Australian embassy in South Korea was working with Swedish officials in Pyongyang.
“There’s obviously some complications in providing consular assistance into North Korea – we work through the Swedish government [and] all of those steps are underway.”
Alek Sigley Released From Detention
On July 4, 2019, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Alek Sigley had been released from detention by the North Korean government and had arrived safely in China.
“Swedish authorities advised they met with senior officials with the DPRK [North Korea] and raised the issue of Alex’s disappearance. We were advised that the DPRK have released him from detention and he has safely left the country and I can confirm that he has arrived safely.”
He also thanked the Swedish government for their help in securing Mr Sigley’s release.
“On behalf of the Australian government, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Swedish authorities for their invaluable assistance in securing Alek’s prompt release, which demonstrates the value of discreet behind-the-scenes work by officials in solving sensitive consular cases in close partnership with other governments. I’m sure we all could not be more pleased. We now know where he is [and] we know he is safe.”
The NK News, a South Korea-based news outlet with which Mr Sigley has close ties, reported that he is now in China and will travel to Tokyo later in the day.
Alek Sigley Instagram
Alek has no Instagram account.