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North Korea says it is holding an American tourist

By Hyung-Jin Kim

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:54 a.m. HST, Jun 06, 2014

SEOUL >> North Korea said Friday it has detained an American tourist for committing an unspecified crime, the third U.S. citizen being held there.

The Korean Central News Agency said authorities were investigating him for committing acts inconsistent with the purpose of a tourist visit. It did not give details.

"American citizen Jeffrey Edward Fowle entered the DPRK as a tourist on April 29 and acted in violation of the DPRK law, contrary to the purpose of tourism during his stay," KCNA reported, referring to the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The U.S. State Department, which last month warned Americans against traveling with private tour operators to North Korea, said it was aware of the reported detainment but did not confirm it.

"There is no greater priority for us than the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad. We have no additional information to share at this time," said a department official who was not able to be quoted by name because of department policy.

Two other Americans are being held in North Korea.

A 24-year-old man was detained in April for alleged improper behavior while entering the country. The tourist agency he traveled with identified him as Matthew Miller. 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. The brief report said he chose the North "as a shelter."

North Korea also has been holding a Korean-American missionary, Kenneth Bae, since November 2012. Bae was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what the North says were hostile acts against the state.

North Korea has been pushing to promote tourism as part of efforts to earn badly needed foreign currency, but the country is also extremely sensitive about how visitors act while in the country.

Friday's announcement came as tension on the Korean Peninsula remains high with North Korea keeping up rhetoric against the U.S. and South Korea following its series of missile and rocket launches earlier this year. The North's state media have also unleashed racist and sexist slurs against U.S. and South Korean leaders.

The peninsula is still in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea.

The U.S. and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations, but Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, oversees consular issues for the United States there. Unless a detainee signs a privacy waiver, the State Department cannot give details about the case.

In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity in the country after he apologized for anti-state religious acts and requested forgiveness.

In December, North Korea released 85-year-old American veteran of the Korean War, Merrill Newman, who was held for several weeks after traveling to North Korea as a tourist. Newman was freed after he gave a videotaped confession in which he apologized for killing North Koreans during the war. Newman later said the confession was given involuntarily and under duress.


Associated Press writer Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.

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loquaciousone wrote:
Anybody who would go visit that nutty country deserves what they get. Send Dennis Rodman to go get him.
on June 6,2014 | 07:00AM
Bdpapa wrote:
After reading the headline, I thought Rodman was the one arrested. Yeah, send him!
on June 6,2014 | 07:04AM
krusha wrote:
Who in their right mind would take a vacation in North Korea unless they want to spend a long time in their prison camps? North Korea is looking for attention from the United States any chance they can get, and snatching a tourist is like low hanging fruit for them. Now they have to send Ambassador Rodman back there to broker a deal....
on June 6,2014 | 07:04AM
bombay2101 wrote:
No problem. Since Obama has shown he is the master of driving a "hard" bargain to obtain an American's release, I am sure he will jump at the chance to do the same here. He will probably offer N. Korea the State of Hawaii.
on June 6,2014 | 07:40AM
Poor Obama, dammed if does, dammed if he doesn't. And for people to place the entire blame on 1 man is unbelievable.
on June 6,2014 | 12:40PM
thatsmyname wrote:
Leave him, if he went there on his own he should know what the possible consequences are. Let him rot in jail.
on June 6,2014 | 08:50AM
Jerry_D wrote:
Yes! Let Bergdahl rot in jail since he deserted on his own free...oh wait, wrong dude.
on June 6,2014 | 09:47AM
Oahuan wrote:
Too bad this wasn't done with Bergdahl.
on June 6,2014 | 09:49AM
Oahuan wrote:
Exchange 5 more Talibans over to North Korea. C'mon Obama, work your magic!!
on June 6,2014 | 09:47AM
sailfish1 wrote:
Anybody contemplating going to North Korea, for whatever reason, better plan to stay there for a long time and it won't be in a hotel.
on June 6,2014 | 02:23PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Kim Dum Wun seems to be getting fatter if that's possible in a country where 90% of the population is starving.
on June 6,2014 | 03:27PM
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