It’s at once a story of North Korea as one of the world’s most isolated and tightly controlled states on earth – and one that had allowed an Australian exchange student to “run tours” of it, since April 2018.
Until, that is, he apparently went too far just this week, as the UK’s Daily Mail is reporting.
At some point during his stay in North Korea – eager to document everything he could for the benefit of his followers – Sigley touched on the unfinished Ryugyong Hotel.
According to the British Daily Mail, the hotel “remained famously unfinished after construction was halted in 1992 as North Korea entered an economic crisis.”
The newspaper says Sigley – who has an Australian father, a Chinese mother, and a Japanese wife – one whom he wed in North Korea – “went missing” – but the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs explained he had been “detained.”
And of course, as the procedure goes, the Australian government’s department is “urgently seeking clarification” as to the detention.
So what happened to get Sigley – who has also been reportedly involved in a spot of business – namely, operating a tour company in North Korea – on some serious government blacklist?
Sigley seemed to have gotten an urge – and don’t we all sometimes – to get snarky – so his “tweet that broke the censor’s back” read:
“New signage above the main entrance to the Ryugyong Hotel bearing its name and logo. A sign that it will soon be open for business?”
But depending on jurisdiction we live in, we may just go on being snarky – or indeed, wind up in jail.
According to the Daily Mail, despite operating out of the communist dictatorship and being an exchange student at the Kim Il Sung University since April 2018, Sigley “managed to share rare glimpses inside the country, despite the strict rules around media.”
According to the report, strict North Korean rules notwithstanding, Sigley managed to build himself quite a Twitter following – by the Daily Mail standard, that’s around 4,000 followers – and in 2018 he somehow managed to pen an editorial for the British daily The Guardian.
In the article, Sigley shares that he reportedly has “nearly unprecedented access to Pyongyang.”
He then praised North Korea, saying: ‘Pyongyang has been a very special place for us.’
During his wedding in Pyongyang in 2018, Singley said he was “free to wander around the city, without anyone accompanying him.”
“Interaction with locals can be limited at times, but I can shop and dine almost anywhere I want.”
Well – reportedly, that’s the case no more.