CINCINNATI >> An Ohio man being detained in North Korea was on vacation as part of a tour and “loves the adventure of experiencing different cultures and seeing new places,” a family spokesman said Monday.
Tim Tepe, an Ohio attorney who is acting as a spokesman for Jeffrey Edward Fowle’s family, told reporters in a statement that Fowle’s wife of 14 years and three children miss him very much and are anxious for him to come home.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency said Friday that Fowle was being detained for acts inconsistent with a tourist visit in the communist-led country. It said Fowle, 56, of Miamisburg in southwest Ohio, arrived in North Korea on April 29 and did not provide details about the accusations against him.
The family also thanked the Swedish Embassy, which handles consular matters for Americans in North Korea, for its “continuing efforts” on Fowle’s behalf and “those from around the world who have offered their support during this difficult time.”
Fowle’s wife, Tatyana Fowle, a 40-year-old Russian immigrant, flanked Tepe as he read the statement to reporters. They declined to answer questions.
The Fowles have three children, ages 9, 10 and 12. Jeffrey Fowle works in a city streets department.
Mark Edward Howard, who attends Fowle’s church, said Friday that he’s “a very good Christian father.”
He said that Tatyana Fowle has limited English and that her husband always stayed close to her side in case she needed a translator.
“They are pretty much inseparable,” he said. “You never see him not by her side. They’re a very nice family.”
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Friday that the department has a warning against travel to North Korea and that being part of a tour group will not prevent a possible arrest, noting that Fowle’s detention is the third of a U.S. citizen in North Korea in recent months.
She added that there’s “no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad.”
One of the other two U.S. detainees is Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been held since November 2012, and is serving 15 years of hard labor for what North Korea says were hostile acts against the state.
The other American being held was detained for alleged improper behavior while entering the country. The tourist agency he traveled with identified him as Matthew Miller, 24. North Korea said he entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum.