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American held in N. Korea left no family contact info, tour firm says


SEOUL » A 24-year-old American who was detained in North Korea this month traveled there alone and left no contact information for his family, according to the New Jersey-based travel company that arranged his trip.

The man, Matthew Todd Miller, was detained by North Korean officials for "rash behavior" at customs at the Pyongyang airport April 10, the North’s state-run media said Friday. North Korea accused him of tearing up his tourist visa and demanding asylum.

Uri Tours, which arranged Miller’s trip, was "informed early on that Mr. Miller had deliberately ripped his visa and had declared that he was ‘not a tourist,’" the company’s director, John Dantzler-Wolfe, wrote in an email Sunday. "Since that time, we have been working with the appropriate diplomatic, governmental and local agencies to resolve the situation."

Uri Tours posted similar information on its website.

Miller signed up for a private tour, Dantzler-Wolfe said. As most private tour clients do, he chose to travel with local guides from Uri Tours’ North Korean partner, he said.

"He did not indicate any special intentions in his tour application," Dantzler-Wolfe said.

No family member has reached out to Uri Tours about Miller, Dantzler-Wolfe said. The company also has tried in vain to reach the emergency contact Miller provided in his application, he said.

The State Department said that it was aware of Miller’s detention and that it was working with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang on the issue. Washington has no diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, and the Swedish Embassy has often represented the interests of U.S. citizens in the country.

Another American, Kenneth Bae, has been held in North Korea since late 2012. Bae, a Korean-American missionary, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor on charges of trying to establish a secret proselytizing network inside the isolated country, supposedly in a plot to undermine its political system.

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