By Hyo-Jin Paik
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
SEOUL, South Korea – An American crossed into North Korea from China on Monday and is being detained by North Korea for illegally entering the communist country.
The unidentified American is apparently seeking asylum in North Korea and wants to join the North Korean military.
An anonymous source from North Korea said the 28-year old American said he came to North Korea because he “did not want to become a cannon fodder in the capitalist military” and instead “wants to serve in the North Korean military.”
North Korea’s Central News Agency broke the news of this case on Monday. The news agency reported that the American was arrested for trespassing and that he is currently under investigation.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service unable to confirm the report, and the U.S. Embassy in Seoul had no comment regarding this case.
This is the second case in the past month of Americans being detained by North Korea. In late December, the North detained an American missionary, Robert Park, for illegally crossing the North Korea-China border.
The U.S. State Department has requested the Swedish government to act an intermediary as the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represents U.S. interests in North Korea, because the North and the U.S. have no formal diplomatic relationship.
The State Department spokesman said that the report is being investigated; however, at the present time, there is no information regarding the man’s name or occupation.
The detention of Americans comes at a time when North Korea ignored warnings from both Washington and Seoul and fired live artillery into the sea by the disputed border area between the North and South Korea.
Experts have said that North Korea may use detainees as bargaining chip with the U.S. in negotiations concerning North’s nuclear programs.
For more information, please see:
Reuters – North Korea holding second U.S. citizen, U.S. says – 29 January 2010
Telegraph –American ‘defected’ say North Koreans – 30 January 2010
The Washington Post – Report: Detained American seeks asylum in NKorea – 30 January 2010