SEOUL (South Korea) - A KOREAN-AMERICAN missionary held captive in North Korea for six weeks after illegally crossing into the country late last year alleged on Wednesday that his interrogators tortured him.

Robert Park walked over a frozen river into North Korea on Christmas Day, shouting that he brought God's love and carrying a letter urging the totalitarian regime to relinquish power and free its political prisoners. He held a Bible and letters addressed to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The 28-year-old was quickly arrested by border guards and held in Pyongyang before North Korea released him in early February, saying Mr Park had admitted to committing a crime and had repented. Nearly nine months after his release and back on the Korean peninsula for a visit to Seoul, Mr Park said the confession and contrition were extracted with force.

'My only regret is ... the false confession,' Mr Park told The Associated Press in an interview in Seoul. 'People start to know how evil North Korea was and they know the confession was a lie.

They knew the confession was false.' A pale-looking Mr Park, who is from Tucson, Arizona, alleged he was beaten by the border guards who detained him and that his North Korean interrogators tortured him. He said some of the abuse was sexual in nature but refused to provide details.

'What happened was very humiliating. You know ... there are damages that are maybe permanent,' he said, calling the abuse 'devastating.' 'I struggled with suicide a great deal since I left North Korea,' he said. 'I almost committed suicide. Thankfully my family and friends helped me in America, and they placed me in a hospital.'

'N.Korea jailers tortured me'