BREAKING: Australia probes reports student, 29, arrested in North Korea


Alek Sigley

NORTH KOREA: Reportedly student Alek Sigley has been detained in Pyongyang (Pic: FACEBOOK/ALEK SIGLEY)

Australian officials confirmed to Daily Star Online that a citizen has reportedly been detained in Kim Jong-un’s kingdom.

South Korean media Channel A has named the arrested man as Alek Sigley, who runs numerous social media accounts about his life in North Korea.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said: “The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance, in accordance with the Consular Services Charter, to the family of an Australian man who has been reported as being detained in North Korea.  

“The Department is urgently seeking clarification.  Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment.”

Mr Sigley is an MA literature student at Kim Il Sung University, and also operates Tongil Tours, a educational company which runs trips to North Korea. 

Alek Sigley

PYONGYANG: Alek Sigley was reportedly detained at Kim Il Sung University (Pic: FACEBOOK/ALEK SIGLEY)

“An Australian man has been reported as being detained in North Korea”


Mr Sigley’s case is being reportedly dealt with by the British Embassy in North Korea – with Australia not having representation in Pyongyang. 

Channel A cities a “prominent” North Korea official, who said: “Alek Sigley has recently been arrested in North Korea. The British Embassy in North Korea is handling this case.”

Daily Star Online has contacted the Foreign Office for comment. 

Mr Sigley last updated his social media channels two days ago, showing he was at the famous Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang. 

It is unknown why he has reportedly been arrested, with Channel A reporting “the reason for the arrest is not immediately known”.

Alek Sigley

DETAINED: Australian officials confirmed they are probing reports over Alek Sigley (Pic: FACEBOOK/ALEK SIGLEY)

Alek Sigley

STUDENT: Alek Sigley was doing a Masters at the university in Pyongyang (Pic: FACEBOOK/ALEK SIGLEY)

North Korea has been known to detain foreigners – including the shocking case of Otto Warmbier, a college student who was released in a vegetative state back to the US. 

Mr Sigley, from Perth, is just one of three western students studying at Kim Il Sung University.

He revealed last year it took him two years to convince the Pyongyang collegue to accept him as a student.

The student even had his wedding ceremony last summer in North Korea.

He has been celebrated for his unique insight into North Korea, writing a number of articles for his blog and being interviewed about life in the secretive state.


Alek Sigley

SOCIAL MEDIA: Alek Sigley updates followers regularly on his life in North Korea (Pic: FACEBOOK/ALEX SIGLEY)

Speaking of life in North Korea last year, Mr Sigley said: “It took about two years of nagging and emailing and back and forth.

“They have to trust you and know you, the tour company did help, and I’d been to the country more than 10 times.”

Mr Sigley has more than 4,000 followers on Twitter and a Facebook page with which he keeps people abreast of his life in North Korea.

He has posted pictures of himself wearing a North Korean national football kit, trying out different foods at restaurants, and even visiting the zoo in Pyongyang. 


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