When two american journalists were arrested March 17, 2009 near the North Korean border while reporting on refugees living in China, vigils for their release were held across the US. Image credit: Wikipedia.
North Korean state media has announced that security services have detained an American citizen who has confessed to unspecified crimes “proven through evidence”, according to the Guardian.
State media said in a short dispatch on Friday that someone named Pae Jun Ho entered the country on 3 November as a tourist but was detained because of crimes.
It said the crimes were “proven through evidence” but did not elaborate.
South Korean activists told local media in Seoul the detained man was a Korean American and was taken into custody after entering North Korea to guide tourists. He operates a tourism company that specialises in North Korea, the reports said.
The North Korean dispatch said officials from the Swedish embassy met the American on Friday, but there were no other details about the meeting.
Karl-Olof Andersson, Sweden’s ambassador to North Korea, said he could not comment on the case and referred the matter to the US state department. Sweden represents the US in diplomatic affairs in North Korea since Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic relations.
The detained American is undergoing “legal treatment” according to North Korea’s criminal law, the official Korean Central News Agency said.
In 2009, two American journalists were convicted by North Korean authorities of illegally entering the country and sentenced two 12 years hard labour. The pair were eventually pardoned by Kim Jong-il and released after former US President Bill Clinton made a remarkable trip to the dictatorship to negotiate on the journalists’ behalf.