An Australian man released from detention in North Korea has explained his disappearance was due to a misunderstanding on the part of the nation’s dictator Kim Jong Un.
Alek Sigley, 29, is now safely in China after diplomatic efforts by Sweden on behalf of Australia saw him released after spending more than a week in detention in North Korea.
Speaking exclusively to The Bug, Mr Sigley said Kim Jong Un had personally ordered his capture and jailing because he believed he was the 1970s Australia TV talk show host Ernie Sigley.
“Apparently the North Korean leader became obsessed some years ago with Australian TV personality Denise Drysdale when someone gave him a 40-year-old Betamax video cassette of a 1974 episode of the ABC’s pop music show Countdown,” he said.
“It was hosted as usual by Ian Meldrum, with his 1970s long hair but in those days without his cowboy hat, and I understand Kim Jong Un was initially smitten by this ‘Molly’ who was clearly like no other woman he had seen.
“But then further into the particular episode Denise and Ernie (pictured) performed their cover version of the 1960s US hit song Hey Paula that was dominating the Australian music charts at the time.
“Kim Jong Un’s obsession switched to Denise and he began fantasising over her. His fixation was so strong that he forced one of North Korea state TV’s propaganda newsreaders to undergo plastic surgery to look like Denise (main picture). Sadly for the poor woman it wasn’t a great success.
“Nevertheless, Kim Jong Un made it known that he wanted to meet, and I understand mate, with Denise Drysdale based on her appearance in the Countdown video.
“Then a few weeks ago when he was scanning the list of foreigners currently in his country he saw my name and thought I was Ernie Sigley and might be able to lead him to Denise.
“So he had me taken off the street and locked up in his presidential palace where he visited my cell and told me his intention was to let Denise Drysdale know he would have me killed if she didn’t immediately agree to fly to Pyongyang and marry him.
“I pleaded with him to let me go but he ignored me. I freely admit I was really scared he might carry out his threat and I was worried what would happen if he contacted Denise and she knocked him back.
“I didn’t know what to do. Then I struck on a plan. The next time Kim Jong Un visited my cell I asked for a computer and showed him a You Tube clip of Denise on a recent episode of Network Ten’s morning show Studio 10.
“I couldn’t believe how quickly he lost interest in contacting her, and how quickly he had me freed and on my way to Beijing. I didn’t even have time to thank him,” Mr Sigley said.